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ru-A^ ^jrujL^^ -<S<j>u. 



THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



15e Cottnto l?amilton 



THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

THE BLINDNESS OF VIRTUE 

THE DOOR THAT HAS NO KEY 

THE MIRACLE OF LOVE 

A PLEA FOR THE YOUNGER 
GENERATION 




And over the.n both . . . hung the m™,n and stars. 
t HONTispiEcE. .See page 3^. 



THE SINS OK THE 
CHILDREN 



A N')iEL 



liV 



COSMO HAMji.ToN 



HUH ri!:.uisi'ii:cK hy 
GI'OiiCK (X MAKER 



TORONTO 



F=UBL.rSHB» 
Idle; 






l'H<f\ Jl.-i ;:i-i.,' .\V,: 



i"Hf .'; 



THE SINS OF THE 
CHILDREN 



A NOVEL 



BY 



COSMO HAMILTON 



WITH FRONTISPIECE By 

GEORGE O. BAKER 



) 



TORONTO 



PUBLISHBR 

isie 



^^ 






CapyriQhl, 1918, 
Bt Cosmo Hamilton. 

All rights remved 



THE COLONIAL PBEgs 
C. H. S1M0ND8 CO., BOSTON, V. S. A. 



Ij 



CONTENTS 



PART ONE — Youth 
PART TWO -The City . 
PART THREE — Life 



PAGE 
I 

99 
221 



PART ONE 
YOUTH 



J 



THE SINS OF 
THE CHILDREN 



I 

tJ^r. ^''r.^"*»'"^ '^"ghed the rooks stirred on 
the old trees behind the Bodleian and the bored cab" 

cXsZ S V?'' ■•" — f-'^ble attitudes on the r 
cabs in St. Cles perl<ed up their heads. 
He threw open his door one morning and leaving 

sJi r "''; °' "^''^ ^°"'"S round' the tro? 
las Kenv u'" '"""'^ '''' ^^-^"""-"t form of Nicho 
las Kenyon all among his cushions as usual JTl 

zTes The""' f^'^''''-' ^"^ -SinThis m g ! 

" You ought to know that I don't think. It's a form 
of exercise that I never indulee in" V " ' ^ ^°™ 



J 



4 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

" Well," said Peter, " I was coming down the High 
just now and an awful pretty girl passed with a Univ. 
man. She looked at me — thereby very nearly laying 
me flat on my face — and I heard her a>k, 'Who's 
that ? ' It was the man's answer that makes me laugh. 
He said: ' Oh, he's only a Rhodes scholar 1 ' " And 
off he went again. 

Nicholas Kenyon raised his immaculate person a few 
inches and looked round at his friend. The Harvard 
man, with his six-foot-one of excellent muscles and 
sinews, his square shoulders and deep chest, and his 
fine, honest, alert and healthy face, made most people 
ask who he was. "If I'd been you," said Kenyon, 
"I should have made a mental note of that Univ. 
blighter in order to .and him one the ne.xt time you 
saw him, that he wouldn't easily forget." 

"Why? I liked it, from a man of his type. I've 
been 'only a d.— - cd Rhodes scholar' to all the little 
pussy purr-pur. .'er since I first walked the High in 
my American-ma - clothes. I owe that fellow no 
grudge; and if I m.ct that girl again — which I shall 
make a point of doing— I bet you anything you like 
that his scoffing remark will lend a touch of romance 
to me which will be worth a lot." 
" Was .she something out of the ordinary? " 
" Quite," said Peter. 

He hung his straw hat on the electric bulb, threw off 
his coat, rolled up his sleeves and started to tidy up his 
rooms with more energy and deftness than is possessed 
by the average housemaid. He flicked the little pile 
of cigarette ash, which Kenyon had dropped on the 



YOUTH 5 

floor into a corner. He gathered the weekly illus- 
rated papers which Kenyon had flung aside and put 
them on a back shelf, and then he picked up the man 
Kenyon m his arms, deposited him in a wide arm- 
cha.rln front of the fireplace and started punching all 
the cushions. * 

Kenyon looked ineffably bored. " Good God • " he 
sa.d. "What's all this energy? Vo„ shatter my 
nervous system. 

"My dear chap," said Peter, "you seem to forget 
hat this .s Commen,. and that n,y people have come 
three thousand miles to see their little Peter in his little 
rooms. Im therefore polishing up the knocker of the 
big front door. My mother has a tidy mind and I 
vvaut my father to gain the impression that I'm me- 
thodical and responsible. He has a quick eye They 
wired me from London last night to sav that they'll be 
here at five o'clock to tea. I dashed round to the Ran- 
dolph early this morning to book rooms for them 
Oe^ It s a big party, tool I can't make out why they 
want so many rooms. It'll be like my sister to have 
urought over one of her school friends. I guess I 
shall be darned glad to see them, anyway." 

There waj a touch of excitement in the boy's voice 
and h.s sun-tanned, excellent face showed the delight 
that he felt. He had not seer his mother, brother and 

EngTand"" "'° ^'"'' ''""'"^ '^'"^ ^'' ^^-^^"""^ '" 
Nicholas Kenyon got up slowly. He did every- 
thing slowly. "Well," he said, "I thank God that 
my people don't bother me on these festive occasions 








'II 



6 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

To my way of thinking the influx of fathers and 
mothers into Oxford makes the whole place provincial. 
However, I can understand your childish glee. You 
are pretty badly dipped, I understand, and with the 
true psychology of the rasping undergraduate you are 
first going to throw the glamour of the city of spires 
over your untravelled parent and then touch him for 
a fairly considerable cheque." 

Peter gave a sort of laugh. " Touch my father! " 
he said. " Not much. I shall put my case up to my 
mother. She's the one who does these little things." 
Kenyon was faintly interested. Being perennially 
impecunious himself and unable to raise money even 
from the loan sharks, he looked to the advent of Peter's 
parents to bring him at least fifty pounds. He always 
borrowed from Peter. 

" Oh, I see," he said. " It's the old lady who car- 
ries the money-Legs, is it?" 

" No, it isn't," said Peter; "but as a matter of fact 
I never have gone to my father for anything and I 
don't think I ever shall. I don't know why it is, but 
none of us have ever been able to screw up courage to 
say more than ' Good-morning ' and ' Good-night ' to 
the Governor, although of course we all think he is a 
very wonderful person." 

Kenyon yawned. "I see," he said. "Bad luck. 
I should hate to have such a disagreeable devil for a 
father — one of the martinet type, who says don't all 
the time when he ought to say do, and makes home a 
sort of pocket-hell for everybody." 
Peter twisted round and spoke quickly and rather 



YOUTH 7 

warmly. "So should I," he said, "but luckily I 
haven't. I didn't want to suggest Uiat my father was 
that type of man. He's one of the very best — one of 
the men who count for something in my country 
He s worked like a dog to give us a chance in life and 
his generosity makes me personally sometimes feel al- 
most mdecent. I mean that I feel that I have taken 
advantage of him,— but — but, somehow or other,— 
oh, I don't know,— we don't seem to know each other 
— that's all. He hasn't the knack of winning our 
confidence — or something. So it conies to this : when 
we want anything we ask mother and she gets it for us 
That's all there's to it. And look here, Nick, I want 
you to be frightfully nice to the Governor. Get out 
of your ice-box and warm up to the old man. I can't 
you see; but as he has come all this way to look me up 
I want somebody to show some appreciation." 

With his eyes to the small relief which the visit of 
Dr. Hunter Guthrie, of New York City, might bring 
him, Nicholas Kenyon nodded. " Rely on me," he 
said. "Butter shan't melt in r.y mouth; and before 
your father leaves Oxford I'll make him feel that he's 
been created a Baronet and appointed Physician in 
Ordinary to His Majesty the King. Well, so long 
Peter! I'm lunching with Lascelles at the House this 
mommg. I'll drop in to tea and hand cakes round to 
your beloved family." 

" Right-o," said Peter. " ThafU be great ! " And 
when the door dosed and he found himself alone he 
arranged a certain number of silver cups which he had 
won in athletics all along his mantel-piece, for his 



! 



. •■ I 



I! 



8 



THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



father to see, gazed at them for a moment with a half- 
smile of rather self-conscious pride, finished tidying 
his room, gazed affectionately for a few moments at 
the familiar sight of Pusey House through the leaf- 
crowded trees that lined the sunny street, and then sat 
down to his piano and played a rag-time with all that 
perfect excellence and sense of rhythm which had 
opened the most insular doors to him during his first 
days as a fresher. 



II 



This fine big fellow, Peter Murray Guthrie, who 
had done immensely well at Harvard in athletics and 
was by no means a fool intellectually, could afford to 
be amused at the fact that he had been scoffingly re- 
ferred to as " only a Rhodes scholar." He had been 
born under a lucky star and he had that wonderful 
gymnastic faculty of always falling on his feet. If 
with all his suspicions aroused he had gone up to Ox- 
ford in the same rather timid, self-conscious, on-the- 
defensive manner of the average Rhodes scholar who 
expected to be treated as a creature quite differ 
from the English undergraduate, he would have founcl 
his way to the American Club and stayed there more 
or less iJermanently, taking very little part in the glori- 
ous multitudinous life of the freshmen of his college, 
and remained a sort of pariah of his own making 
Freshmen themselves, the Lord knows, are forlorn 
enough. Everything is strange to them, too, — so- 
ciety, rules, customs, unwritten laws and faces. 



J 

I 



YOUTH 

cro vd. If they do not come frot^ one of the great 
pubhc schools and meet again the men they knew fi ere 
thejr chance of making friends is small aL frmany 

and envy and find the.r feet alone, suffering poor 
d v,,s from a hideous sheepishness and wo.fdeHng 
w.th a sort of morbid self-consciousness, what other 
ta ke'dTro f''?- ^"' '''''' ''■'' unafraid H 
on earth -with his miagmation stirred at the sight 

the feet of the great dead and rang with those of the 
younger generation to whom life was a great advn 
ure and who might spring from those old stones inTo 
verlastmg fame. He strode through the gate of St 
Johns w,th h. chin high, prepared to serve her w.U 
all h^ s rength and all the best of his youth and lea^ 
her finally ^^sM by his name. He didn't give a 
single whoop for all this talk about the snobbishness 
and msu^rtty of English undergraduates. He didn' 
beheve that he would find a college divided and sub- 
divided into se.s; and if the statement proved to be 
true well, he intended to break all the barriers down 
Therefore, with such a spirit added to his fine frank 
manly personality, irresistible laugh, great big frienJly 
hand and the rumours that came with him of his but 
hke rushes on the football field, he became at once a 
marked man. Second-year and even third-year men 
nudged each other when he passed. .- By JoZ/r th y 
sa.d. Thats a useful looking cove! We must get 






i M 



ilti-J 



10 



THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



him down to the river." Or, " I wonder if that 
American can be taught to play cricicet? " As for the 
freshers — all as frightened as a lot of rabbits far 
away from their warren — they gazed with shy ad- 
miration and respect at Peter, who, expecting no re- 
buffs, received none. 

Finding that he could not live in college until he was 
a second-year man, Peter had looked about him among 
the freshers for a likely person with whom to share 
rooms. He had come up in the train with Nicholas 
Kenyon, whose shell he had insisted upon opening. 
He, too, was entered at St. John's and was very ready 
— being impecunious — to share lodgings with the 
American whose allowance he might share and whose 
personality was distinctly unusual. These two then 
gravitated to Beaumont Street, captured a large sit- 
ting-room and two bed-rooms on the ground floor, and 
from the first evening of their arrival were perfectly 
at home. Peter at once hired a piano from a music 
shop in the High which he quickly discovered, bought 
several bottles of whiskey and a thousand cigarettes, 
besides several pounds of pipe tobacco, threw open his 
window, and as soon as dinner was ovrr started play- 
ing rag-times. 

Kenyon had been interested and amused. He had 
not exp;cted to find himself " herding," as he put it, 
with a damned Rhodes scholar. He took it for 
granted that these " foreigners " would live apart from 
the ordinary undergraduate, as uncouth people should. 
He had been quick to notice, however, — psychology 
being his principal stock in trade, — that Peter had 



YOUTH 



r f 



made an instant impression; and as he sat nn fU 

P.erwXSn:ZSe"otret--\r^^d' 
cen^n,, not be sulkin, in the A:!jict al' ^^°"'' 

"P^er"TL f. ''"*'■" °' '*• J^*^"'^' ''— 

everything thlt wls'^oo't hS^'Se TT^ 7'' 
lovallv rv,oj t,- 6 " lu mm. He stood by them 

who tnTed o J' 'T' ^'"^ headquarters, and aH 

NfchSl kf^R ""'"""^ ^""^^'' -'-ting Forbis 

of MertonalVo /!'■"'*''■■■ ^"'^ ^^^^'«°" Smith. 

HvenDrsied7o^„rr^;,ethtar^^°- 
casion and the fame of th» epoch-making oc- 

was easy. There was nothing else Hke it 

whJe tlTr'""'^ ''^'^•" "^^ ^^ - ««'e while the 

^™ » ws Piano p.W-";ir.j;'„L^; 



h i' 



l^\ 



12 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

right. Others conceived his great laugh to be mainly 
responsible — and were not far short of the mark. 
But it was Nicholas Kenyon, the psychologist, who 
put his finger on the whole truth of this swift and un- 
believable success. He said that it was Peter's hu- 
manity which had conquered Oxford, and in so doing 
proved — impecunious only son of an absolutely broke 
peer as he was — that he would be able to make a very 
fair living in the future on his wits. It may be said 
that he never intended to work. 

It was part of Peter's honesty and simplicity to re- 
main American. He made no effort to ape the Ox- 
ford manner of speech. He would see himself shot 
before he got into the rather effeminate clothes af- 
fected by the Oxford man. He continued to be nat- 
ural, to remain himself, and not to take on the colors 
chameleon-wise of those about him. His Stetson hat 
was the standing joke of St. John's. Nevertheless, 
there was not one man in the college who would not 
have hit hard if any derogatory remarks had been 
thrown at the head inside it. His padded shoulders, 
upholstered ties and narrow belt were all frequently 
caricatured, but the sound of Peter's laugh gathered 
men together like the music of the Pied Piper of Ham- 
elm. It was just that this man Peter Guthrie was a 
man that made him not only accepted in a place sceth- 
mg with quaint and foolish habits, out-of-date shib- 
boleths and curious unwritten laws, but loved and re- 
spected. Here was one to whom merely to live was 
a joy. To the despondent he came therefore as a 
tome. He exuded breeziness filled with ozone. His 



YOUTH 

the P«.y side and To, nte Jf' "pr' ^'^ ^'^ ^'^^ 
hard ana played hard and seVL. ^' ^°'''"' 
and drank like a thirs"pIa„T A / . '^' '"= ""''''' 
a factory chimney He hfn ° ''*' ''"°'^«d like 

tolerance for " Ss " and "° "'"'''''' views -no 
into chapel and saTh-- nr "''' ,T ''^'"^"^ '° stride 
short, "una Jn,:j>;arhrwa^cr T'^ '°^- ^" 
been endowed with the rare JifTf"''^' ""'^ '"'^ ''«<' 
''ticking to it. And o at K?"^"''"''^"^ 

quented the rooms of the so-caned-fn^""' ^^° ^'^- 
"h-ttle dreadful clever neon^^^"u"*'"''*"^'s - those 

verted other meS ZS and '"'"''' '""" P^ 
nahty of their own -T^L a st^".' "° ''"^- 
feter's part to have nothL but thfnu! °' ^'"'"* '"' 
family all over his rooms ™P '5'^P^' °^ his 

Nicholas said to himself ^hol^uiri ^ ' "'^ '"^"' 
very young, to dispense S tL f 7'': ^"'""^ the . 
in his frames - the nulf "'" ^°"" '''^i"^ 

them-i„ order to cole, the ^""'"^ P'^'^^'* ■" 
devilish wise and bad Sot shT'!,""" °' "^'"^ 
this human merchant , V °'^^'^' according to 

a week so that he might sit .^^^'^.'^'^ °ne evening 
write a tremendous s re din "T^'^^P*^'' ^"^ 
that was Peter the m »! '"°'''"- However, 
-hoIar-Petfr the OxTo^J ~ ''^^^^ ^"^ Rhodes' 

- ^'.. -Pie ^^:^r:^z;:^z^i:^ 



!■:! 



KilJ 



h' 






14 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

annoyed the bloodless, clever parasite who lived with 
him and upon him, — women. 

Now, Nicholas Kenyon — the Honourable Nicholas 
Augustus Fitzhugh Kenyon — was a patron of the 
drama. That is to say, he had the right somehow to 
enter the stage door of the Theatre Royal at all times, 
and did so whenever the theatre was visited by a musi- 
cal comedy company. He was known to innumerable 
chorus girls as " Boy-dear,- and made a point of en- 
tertaining them at luncheon and supper during their 
visits to the university town. He brought choice 
specimens of this breed to Beaumont Street for tea 
and tittle-tattle and introduced them to Peter, who 
liked them very much and would have staked his life 
upon their being angels. But when it came to driving 
out to small unnoticeable inns, Peter squared his shoul- 
ders and stayed at home. 

" The d.vil take it I" said Nicholas one night, with 
frightful frankness which was devoid of any inten- 
tional insolence. "What's this cursed provincialism 
that hangs to you? I suppose it comes from the fact 
that you were born in a shack to the tinkle of the trol- 
ley-car: " 

Peter's howl of laughter made the piano play an 
immaculate tune. "Wrong," he said. "Geei but 
you're absolutely wrong. The whole thing comes to 
this, Nick: One of these fine days I'm going to be 
•named. The girl I marry is going to be cl.-an. I 
beheve in fairness. I'm going to be clean. That's all 
there is to it." 

So that, one way and another. Dr. Hunter G. Guth- 



YOUTH 



III 

One o'clock that afternoon found Peter still !,,„, 

teninlt.H • ^ ^^ ^^°°'^ *°^^"^" watching and lis- 
"dir was grey and who wore very large ela«P« «,,>!, 

all soft and sweet, with a bird-like far^ ,n^ ■ 

muflfins, street doir<! at,^ oTi i, ■, "='<-'<«ns, raga- 

heltKid AttL? . "'"''"^' *° "^°"'e and be 

"cipea. At that moment thev were fnii ^f * . 



I 

r ! 






In, 



i6 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



\i\ 



m 



was brushed away from his forehead. He was grin- 
ning hke a Cheshire cat and showing two rows of teeth 
which would make a dentist both envious and annoyed. 
There was a slight air of precocity about his clothes. 
Two girls made up the rest of the party. Both were 
young and slim and of average height. Both were 
unmistakably American in their fearless independence 
and cleanness of cut. One was dark, with almost 
black eyebrows which just failed to meet in the mid- 
dle. Her eyes were amazing and as full of danger as 
a maxim, — large and blue — the most astonishing 
blueness. They were framed with long, thick, black 
lashes. Her lips were rather full and red, and her 
skin white. She might have been an Italian or a 
Spaniard. The other girl was blonde and slim, 
with large grey eyes set widely apart, a small patri- 
cian nose :jnd a lovely little mouth turning up at the 
comers. 

How long all these people would have stayed watch- 
ing and listening no man can say. Suddenly, in the 
middle of a bar, Peter sprang up and turned round. 
His cry of joy and the way in which he plunged for- 
ward and picked up the little bird-like woman in his 
arms was very good to see. 

"Mother!" he cried. "Mother! Oh, Gee! This 
is great ! " and he kissed her cheeks and ner hands, and 
then her cheeks again, all the while making strange, 
small, fond noises like a little boy who comes back 
home after the holidays. 

" Oh, dear, dear Peter! " said the little woman, be- 
tween tears and laughter. " How splendidly rough 



YOUTH 



17 

Where shall I be 



you are ! You shake me to pieces 1 
able to tidy my hair?" 

Then, with a rather constrained air and a touch of 
nervous cord.aHty. Peter turned to his father and took 

'•Youtokfine""^^ ""'' ^°"' ^^'''"^" '^ -'^'^■ 
Dr. Hunter Guthrie swallowed something and gave 
a murmur which remained incoherent. Before he 
could p„ll himself together, Peter was hugging his sis- 
ter, who squealed like a pig from the tightness of this 
man s mighty grasp. And then the brother came in 
for u and wmced w.th pain and pleasure as his hand 
was taken m a vise-like grip. 

"Hello, Graham!" 

"Hello, Peter!" 

And then everybody except Peter burst out laugh- 
ing. He stood m front of the fair girl, with his mouth 
wide open, and held out his hand and said ■ " I was 
gomg to hunt the whole place for you,- 1 beg your 

and neck the color of a beet root, that the laughter 
reached its climax. ^"S"kt 

•'^K^^^T^'K'"'' '^' ^''' *° ''"'^ her voice. 
\el Peter," she said, "that's going some. Is an 

introduction superfluous in Oxford? Where did you 
meet Betty Townsend ? " ^ 

"I haven't met her," said Peter. "I saw her this 
"ornmg in the High for a second-" He ran hi 
finger round his collar and moved from one foot to the 

th.. earth had ever looked so uncomfortable. 



.«• 



1H\ 



I'h. 



i *' 



i8 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

And then, with consummate coolness, Betty Town- 
send came to the rescue. " Just after we arrived this 
morning," she said, " and you were all buying picture 
post-cards, I passed Mr. Guthrie when I was walking 
along the High Street with Graham's friend. I recog- 
nized him from the photographs that you have at 
home, and I think he must have heard me ask, ' Who's 
that ? ' I naturally gave him a friendly look. That's 
all." 

" I didn't catch the friendly look," said Peter. But 
he did catch the friendly tone and stored it up among 
his treasures. Then he suddenly stirred himself, being 
host, picked up his mother and placed her on his elab- 
orate sofa ; gave his best arm-chair to his father ; waved 
his sister into the window-seat with her friend, and 
tilted Graham into a deck chair. 

Standing in the middle of the room, beaming with 
pride, he said : " How in thunder did you get here 
so soon? /our wire said that you were coming to 
tea, and I was going to meet the train leaving Pad- 
dington at three-thirty. Gee ! This is the best thing 
that ever happened! Will you lunch here? " 

" Oh, no, dear ! " said Mrs. Guthrie. " So many of 
us will worry your landlady." 

Then out came one of Peter's huge laughs. 
" Worry my landlady ? One look at Mrs. Brownstack 
would show you that she got over being worried before 
the great wind. Why she's kept lodgings for under- 
graduates for twenty years. It's the same thing as 
saying that she's spent the greater part of her life sit- 
ting on the top of Vesuvius. I can give you beer, beef, 



YOUTH 

'he hotel." LikeVll diT T '""''"='' ^''h "« at 
of digestion. '" '°*^'°"' »"« fi»' thoughts were 

rort^°lre*tesr:'Kr' '^ ''''" ""° ''■•^ hed- 
'owedhin^inTnTth'ro^t ,T': "'^ '^^^"^^ f°'- 
-oment. eye to ey The h , ""^ "^"^ °"'" ^^ « 
Instinctively the^grasped'hanH "^ *"'' '" '"° '""• 
of both were filled S to ".ffT" '"' "^^ '"'"'^^ 
very flood of words- 'jotsS-'oif '''T"^ 
the other " Peterl " a J T, ^ ^''^ "'^" ' ^nd 
kinky hair with a tei " ^''''^•" ''^"^hed his 

ness. Peter 3ed '?• T '"^^""°" °^ 'hroati- 

-owhow"ttrro::dh^:r^"'^-^'-^- 

'.hat loaded he he ve" ^h '°';''°'""^''°" °^ '-"''^ 
rubbed shoulder w,th'.M?'''' °^ ^'=^"^^'' Shaw 
Stevenson's " Trel I'e S J^", °" ''^"'^ ^^«^" 
Webster-s Dictio^r " WBunr. S/f'"^' 
c^-on a slushy novel by Carv£l3„?lX.^ 

The little mother, all a-flutter like « thr u 
he w.„dow looking through the t ees at th ' "'' '* 
buildings opDosite Tt,o 7 . ,^^^ ^^ the warm o d 

a cupbLrdTs £0 Ihe ' R^ "'t ""^ P^^^""^ ■"'« 

found nothing but a ftwh-'^r'" ^^"^^^ ''"^^ 

of cards, a box of chesl n . ' V"""' P"^"^^ 

<=n«s- -n, a couple of mortar- 



■i'- \ 



20 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



I'ir 



boards with all their corners gone, and a large collec- 
tion of white shoes in all grades of dilapidation. 

"Are you all ready?" asked Dr. Guthrie, v-iL a 
curious gayety. Among all this youth even ii ■ felt 
young. 

" Rather," said Peter. " I could eat an ox." 

He opened the door, touched his mother's soft cheek 
with his finger as she passed, tweaked his sister's hair, 
refrained from catching E t^y Townsend's eyes, 
winked at his brother and drew back for his father. 

Once in the quad Mrs. Guthrie whispered to Gra- 
ham and went quickly out into St. Giles, beckoning to 
the two girls to follow. She was very anxious that 
Peter should walk with his father, and this — rather 
pleased with himself — Peter did. He would have 
taken his father's arm if he had dared, he was so 
mighty glad to see him. Several times the Doctor 
seemed about to do the same thing, but his hand hesi- 
tated and dropped. And so these two fell in step and 
walked silently along towards the Randolph Hotel, 
passed by men in twos or threes, many of whom, to 
the Doctor's inward delight, cried out, " Hullo, 
Peter ! " with tremendous cordiality. It was not until 
they turned the corner that the Doctor spoke. 

" It gives me real pleasure to see you again, Peter," 
he said, with a quick self-conscious glance at the young 
giant at his elbow. 

" Thank you, father," said Peter, looking straight 
ahead and getting as red as a peony. 



YOUTH 



21 



IV 

'■"■e.s, weIl-k-„oui„g that he was n?'"''"^' '"'''"^ 
•Vew York W.ti, ^ portrait painter in 

evervbo?on h best";'?"''' '''' ''"' '-' '^ P"' 
themselves t"etbv ';"',;"''■ °"^ ="°'h- -" 






♦■ t 



THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



Open Air Performance of " Twelfth Night," later in 
the week, by the O.U.D.S., in the beautiful gardens 
of Worcester. In a word, he played with these people 
as a cat plays with a mouse and as he had always played 
with Peter. He used all his brain not only to win their 
confidence and friendship but to make an impression 
which might afterwards be of use to himself. 

Nicholas Kenyon was one of th .se men who are 
born and not made. He opened his eyes to find 
himself in an atmosphere of aristocratic roguery. 
The beautiful old house in which his father lived was 
mortgaged to the very tops of the chimneys. It was 
maintained on money borrowed from the loan sharks at 
an exorbitant interest. It was filled with men and 
women who, like his own parents, were clever and 
intellectual enough to work for their livelihood, but 
who preferred to live on their wits and cling to so- 
ciety by the skin of their teeth. In this atmosphere of 
expert parasites — an atmosphere as false as it was 
light-hearted — Nicholas was brought up. He was a 
complete man of the world at fourteen. Even at that 
age he gambled, .aced and borrowed money; and in 
order to provide himself with the necessities of life 
he ran a roulette table in secret at Eton and made a 
book for the racing bets of the little boys of his own 
kidney. Highly gifted and endowed with a most 
likable personality, with the art of eluding punishment 
for misdeeds brought to a masterly completeness, he 
could have been shaped, under different circumstances, 
into a man whose name would stand high in his coun- 
try. With the proper training and discipline and the 



YOUTH 

wSeTaLt tr^sf ^^*^- ^° ^-^^ '-., l2 

it in his power to C™r^^' '"' '°""'"' '^ ''=*'' 
was. he enteTe; oXTZ " '"°"^ '"P'°'"^*- ^s it 
the university foMhrwo /inT'' "' ^"""^ '"- 
was entirely unscrupuirus uX T""' '"P^"'^- "« 
He quietly used the r^e„ 1 ^u "° '°^' °f ''°"°^- 
a^usen^ent. nfoltr "osp tl tv" '°/"'"''' "" "'^'^ 
against havin, to';orr He t'ur'ned ° '""" ^"" 
>nto a sort of busine« , * *"' Personality 

dends. His breedZ? 7 I '"" '" '■^^"'ar divi- 

na.e and hi inhet„Vab hfwo r7' ''^ ^^"-^-- 
any set or society mLL S u'",?' '°'^'orUbly into 

one suspected hi J bTclse "s Snl' "'!"^*'''^- ^^° 
Picfon. His knovJiedro h 1. "' '^''""'^^ ^"^- 
the paradox of his beTng ptl " fh " '°" ''" ''''' 
-ance. and he always bi^ JTeiin^ ' "" °' "- 
ances that he was broke to f 1, ^..''"^ "^^ acquaint- 
struck the honest not^f?. "'"''• ^" 'his way he 
vey false in,pres ion3' H. ""'" "'° '^'^''^■" *° -"" 
made hi„,sel'f so a" ractt Tn^ '"*• """''• ^"^ 
-n were delighted to C to LT^ ""'''' ^''^^ 
to entertain him -and h. ^! P*"** '" oi'der 

ettes were freshly rolled WhZTT ^" "»^'■- 
'o be of the bes'k^own m!ke He °" ' "^ '^ "'^ 
fdious reader and had on^e read^n"""' ' """' '^^ 
poetry which had startWf^hTi ^^'' °" '"°'^<=™ 
He contributed sho^slSla ttfc^to" h'1 "f ^^• 
-e to time Which tickled the int^tSSi^r/r 



1 ;j(. 



! 


i;.; 




1 




■ 


M 


M 


1 



T 



■I 






24 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

criminating ; and as a fresher had given a performance 
of Pucl< in one of the productions of the O.U.D.S., 
over which undergraduate critics went raving mad. 
Even in his deahngs with his friends, the chorus girls, 
there was a certain touch of humour which made it 
impossible even for the most strai^htlaced to say hard 
things of him. 

In a word, Nicholas Kenyon was a very dangerous 
man. His influence was as subtly bad and pernicious 
as a beautifully made cigarette heavily charged with 
dope; and he would at any time if necessary have 
stolen his mother's toilet set in order to provide him- 
self with caviar, plover's eggs and a small bottle of 
champagne. 

And this was the man who had shared rooms with 
Peter Guthrie during his terms at Oxford, and of 
whom the Doctor spoke that first night of his stay at 
the Randolph Hotel as an unusually charming person 
whom it was a pleasure to meet. 

In fact, he was the sole topic of conversation in all 
the bedrooms of Peter's family party before the lights 
were tu/ned out. Mrs. Guthrie said, as she sat in 
front of the dressing-table combing her hair : " How 
lucky it is, dear, that Peter has found such a wonder- 
ful friend here ! He is so English and so refined — in 
every sense of the word a gentleman." The Doctor 
thoroughly agreed with her and made a mental note to 
invite Kenyon to his house in New York in the autumn. 
Belle Guthrie took her brushes into Betty's room, 
which was next to her own, and looking extremely 
attractive in a pale pink kimono, with her dark 



YOUTH 

confided to 'he ' Std Z' 1 '^^'^' '^"^"^^^ '^"'^ 
•"ore bully time even .hn u u'"' ^°'"& '° ^ave a 
qt T u . ^ " '"^" she had houed " i i 

^t- John's College," she saiH " ^ u '°^'^ 

old streets and all L u ti ""^ ^^^'^ wonderful 
quently-S ' Vr^VZ^ ''''' ^^'"'^'^ ^^"^e so fre- 
Kenyon. He is 3" '"'S "^^^ ="'°"t Nicholas 
such perfectlj :.on^~/„° fh"""? -*"y-says 

'i'd you see [he way ',''"? I^ '"' °u' "^ ^^^^' 
'good-night'?" "^ ''* '"^ ^''^n he said 

heSeJ^SJSeS-ilTrfr-^-^- 
"The light was shi„in;o„ Peter t Jac ':;' f ^^''^■ 
good enough for me." ' ^"'^ ^''^^ ^^s 

What Graham thoueht nf v^^ 
Peter's rooms, to wh"cf he LJ ''°\'""' °"' "" 
brother when the fam y were leffTth t 1"' '''^ 
their return from a m,L 1 ^^ *'°'^' ^^t" 

hght after din"er-i I ' "'''' '" '''^ "'°°"- 

stream on which th^ht T"!; •'°°"''"^' "^""^v 

-hions and listened' t^^ h tfn'a" ^""*^^" ^"^""^ 
throbbing son^ of fh- u appreciation to the 

- an JCil^i^^^^^^^^ ^^ep voice 

ir '^ ''' "^--/armptrent'-o/^^ 

some^rnds'Thisf^'l^T.^"""'^ ^° ^'^ — of 

r abirtri^^ £Lb?\T '''-T ^-"^- 

'-•^io^Iy warm and Pe e "s !fd .' "'^'" ^'^^ ''^- 

""■nerous leaded Dane '^'"''°'^'' ^'*'' '^eir 

beaded panes, were wide open. It was 



f' *Hi[ 



I 



X, 



26 



THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



eleven o'clock and the life of the town had almost 
ceased, although from time to time little parties of 
undergraduates passed along St. Giles and their high- 
spirited laughter drifted up. 

After having put cigarettes in front of his brother, 
Peter flung himself full stretch upon his sofa, with a 
pipe between his teeth. " Now for your news, old 
man ! " he said. " I'm glad you like Nick. He cer- 
tainly is one of the best. What seems perfectly amaz- 
ing to me is that while I'm still a sort of schoolboy, 
rowing and reading, you're a full-blown man earning 
your living. I'd give something to see you buzzing 
about Wall Street with your head full of stocks and 
shares and the rise and fall of prices. How do you 
do it?" 

Graham ran his hand rather nervously over his 
mouth. " It's great ! " he said excitedly. " That's 
what I call life. Gee ! You've no idea how fascinat- 
ing it is to gamble on the tape and get a thrill every 
time you hear it tick. It's like living among earth- 
quakes. I love it ! " 

" Gamble ! " Peter echoed the word with a touch 
of fright. " Good Lord ; but you don't gamble 
surely ? I thought you were a broker and looked after 
other people's concerns ! " 

Graham shot out a short laugh. " Other people's 
concerns? Why, yes; but we're not in Wall Street 
for ether people. I've had the luck of the devil lately 
though, — everything I've touched has gone wrong. 
However, don't let's talk about that. I'm here for a 
holiday and a rest, and I need 'em. I believe I was 



YOUTH 

™*' '"s:i ;;rr,'rr ^'°" ■ '^' 

things out At th " ''^^^ t° straighten 

twe't,thousa:^dcSiJ"'"* '"°'"^"' ^'^ °- 'bout 

^^^^7ivz%'ri:''' ''" ''-^ ^'^^^^~ 

Harvard. Peter sat ,n ^ ""^^ °"'^ J"^' °"' °f 
Tw^^sandi^^X;-— ,;:-- 

the/s roo:^ w th su ^a S""" n°" ''^" ^° '"'^ ^- 
six months ago-when j had . " '^^^-^ - about 
thousand dolJrs I had . n^,^ .."''' ' '''" ^°'- '^ve 
after she had a fit he ave V'"' ^'''' ™°'''-- ^"^ 

to pawn. She t £ H; t '"' °^ "^^ ^'^^'^ 
two months I got them out °- c""' *°°- ^-'^n 
well that timefaL m"he" ^b;"' t'^' '"'" ""^ ^"^ 
cailed me a ve;, devrbo;7nd':::d'^^t;; ^K '- 
you have, darhng, but plea e dlv ^ ■ ^' ^ '''^'" 
'"y God, Peter ' You V •! f ''° '* ^^^'" ' ' Oh. 
■"eans. It's hell ' It" r" ^^'' ^V^" Stree 

oftheseda;s:La ea7rd°T-' '^'^ '■*■- O- 
-e plunge' and then "U^ m'eT ■""" ''" ^° 
the country breeding Jn. . '"""^ '3"'"'^ i" 

-t. a„, it- r'^TnVitSol^--^ ^ 

thirrjft/^YoSeT''''''^^'^-''--'^^ "J- 
I've not begun to live and '^''■^ ^°""&" *an I am. 






f?- 1' 



!■: -: 



28 



THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



peritnenting with microbes that he hasn't one idea of 
what his boys are doinf , or are likely to do — abso- 
lutely content to let them find their feet unaided! 
Well, I suppose he knows what he's doing, — but what 
you've just told me makes me wonder whether it 
wouldn't be wise for him to experiment a little bit with 
us for a change. What d'you think ? " 

Graham shrugged his shoulders. With the light on 
his face he looked older than his brother, and there 
was something in his eyes which showed that he had 
already gazed at life very much more closely than the 
big healthy fellow who was his host. " Oh, well," he 
said — pouring himself out a rather stiff whiskey — 
" we've never known quite what it was to have a father, 
— I mean except as a sort of aloof institution, a vague 
person who educated us and placed us out. I should 
resent his butting in now. There's someone coming 
up your stairs, isn't there ? " 

There was. It was Kenyon, who rattled money in 
his trousers pocket with a little smile at the corners 
of his sophisticated mouth. 



Peter put in the time of his life during the next 
few days, and like the great big simple fellow that he 
was, revelled in being the little hero of his family. 

From morning until night he kept them on the move, 
taking' them to all his favorite haunts in the town and 
out in the country, introducing to them whole flocks of 



.i 



YOUTH 
looked up at" STT "" ''^ °"^ ^^^" •'^ 

.-« c, -Good „,„ p„„,. :,:".f'^'^^ -~ 

Ko* M,t° • "•'"'■ """I l>is hand to his 

,^££i:;'dS;r;s.ts4trr,£' 

H. did„., c,ch ,h, l«,k of „.,™| i„ 1,1, 



30 



THE SIN'S OF THE CHILDREN 



just as well. Seeing her great big boy crumpled up 
over his oar Lefore he was assisted out of the boat, 
seeing him stand rocking like a drunken man with his 
great clest heaving and his face the color of a green 
apple, she leaned over the rail and cried out : " Oh, 
my dear, what hare they done to you? Oh, Hunter, 
you must ■lot let him do these things, he'll kill him- 
self! Oh, Peter, Peter!" 

As a matter of fact, no one heard her. There was 
too much good solid roar going on. Every lusty- 
throated St. John's man was shouting at the full capac- 
ity of his lungs. Oh, but it was a good scene! And 
for the quiet, studious Doctor who had sat day after 
day for the great>r part of his life watching bacteri- 
ological experiments, with the most intense interest, 
it was one that caused his blood to move almost dan- 
gerously through his veins and make him shout for 
the first time in his life. 

It had a different effect upon temperamental Belle, 
who danced with excitement and kept on saying, in a 
sort of refrain, " Oh, I'm crazy about all this — simply 
crazy ! " As for Graham, even the thrill of Wall Street 
seemed poor to him in comparison with this stirring 
scene, — the wild rush of men, the rhythmetic plunge 
of oars, the glorious muscular effort and the frenzied 
outburst. 

Betty merely smiled, clasped her hands together and 
held her breath. It seemed to her that in Peter all the 
heroes of her youth, — Brian de Bois Guilbert, Ivan- 
hoe and the rest, — were epitomized in the form, the 
splendid young giant form of her fellow-countryman. 



YOUTH ,j 

aXuf ; wS" M "r ''"^ "^"'''^ *° '-" over 
^tl. ,uiet„ and si^pCl^^n^^ rhr^t ^s^ 

She had never .n her life been so deeply stirred and 
who can wonder at th,*5 -n. • . "^ -"^ ""rreu, and 
fMii „% ^'- ^•'^'■^ 's indeed something 

full of ,nsp,rat,on about these undergraduates^! r^/ 

colleges. It IS unique and splendid and sends voi.na 

:HeVl'ttf t:°r ^^'^ ^-^'^ -^ bea^t-tC' 
ones and with the love and loyalty for th^.V ,1,^, 

mater which makes then, better abl to'sete L woll 

who need then, and the country to which ZyT 

And when having changed iiis shorts and got once 
more into his flannels, Peter went up to the roof^ofT! 
barge, stinging with health and glow Lr^i 
natural pride and satisfaction it was the n T 
whose hand he first took, and";h:' d:; tV wHo^Sd ■ 

My son, my dear son!" It was an extr,nrH 
rnoment for Peter, who had ne^ i^h s r ;" Jr^ 

f ?h '"'"t""'"^ '^'■"^■- "'^'^'' "-ted between 
h.s father and himself so near to crumbling 

weJe S o the th ""1 'fV"' '"°*" ^"^ Graham 
^n unto ,h. wing „, to rt,, „, ,„ „, , ™j,5.ri. 



I I 



'': ,)■ 



! 


t 


it 
1 : 

u 





32 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

It was one of those warm, clear, silver nights which 
the fickle climate of England sometimes produces ap- 
parently to show what it can do when it likes. The 
moon was full and the sky was bespattered with stars. 
The trees on the smooth lawn round the old college 
flung their shadows as though in sunlight and it was 
to a seat under one of these that Peter led Betty just 
before midnight, having very nearly danced her off her 
feet. They sat down panting a little, and laughing for 
no reason, and listened for a moment to the strains of 
the band which drifted through the open windows of 
the hall. 

It was not in Peter to do anything by halves. He 
worked and played like a Trojan and put his back into 
everything that he took up. He knew by this time, 
short as it was, that he was wholly and completely in 
love with the little girl, the first sight of whom had 
made him catch his breath. With a peculiar kind of 
grimness he had made up his mind that she was for him 
if he could win her, and til V.n: orcNious night he 
had dreamed of her as his fuu:c '. itc, as the girl who 
would stand by his side, helpmate and everlasting 
lover, and for whom he would work well and live 
well and carry her with him rung by rung to the top 
of the ladder. He told himself when he awoke that 
he was a presumptuous ass even to dream that she 
would care for him. What was there in him for such 
a girl to care about? All the same, he set his teeth 
and from that moment laid all his future plans and his 
hopes and ambitions and all the best of his nature, at 
her littk feet — and knew perfectly well that if Betty 



YOUTH 
Tot,:Vr '"■'" "'="'"^">- '^ -""^ -'^ alone 

Peter had. "^1 ^ t °" "r""'^'' ^'"^ ^^^"^ »-«^- 
his heart re nd pure "hT" "' ^°'^'""''>'' ^^P' 
never philander^ ' L ke fhe T' "\"-'""-he had 
c-uly imaginative, beltve. hat hT ^ ' i°'fi 'r':"^ T 
where the rainbow ends Peter laW nl V^' ^^^'' 

influence upon the boy which h,H^ '"°'''"- 

-te thin,. Who^ev^r it tTs ^m? ^"T 
to remember and to think h. u V, ? ^ ^"""S*" 
mother as his sweethear . ."' '°°'^''' "P°" his 
cot at night nTasked God"? "m" l'' "^"^ °^'^^ '''^ 
touch of her Toft lin u° '"'"'' ''™ ^"^ '«^t the 

pressed upon him Z T" '" '°'^''^^' '""^ ''^^ -" 
another sLl t^; trTe™ Hif " ^^'"^^ 
The numerous tender services tL • '™ ''°™'- 

thoughtfulness of this ™1 L ''"""' '"''""^' 
huilt up by him into 1 '"°'her-woman, had been 

Betty came-a J, in T 'f °" ^"^ ^ '"^^-'ar. 
another mother- aLshe. '' r^""'^^-^ '' °-e 
her finger and wallTed s JSr^t •'' "' "^"^ ^^■^^ 
-h had been .ept ^rr i^Z^tt? ii: 

^--ar:Sng:;:r-si-:s 




4 



I 
I 



34 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

and incoherence, that he was . nan in love, although 
a psychologist or even an ordinarily observant girl 
could very easily have told hov/ Betty felt. 
" Topping, isn't it? " he said. 
" Simply wonderful," she replied. 
"Tired?" 
" Not a bit." 

" Pretty good floor, eh ? " 
" Perfectly splendid." 
" Gee! I shall miss this place." 
•' Why, of course you will." 
"All the same, I shall be mighty keen to get at 
things, — and begin." 

" Yes, of course you will." 
" How do you know ? " 
"Oh, that's easy." 
"Is it? How?" 
" Well, don't I know you? " 
" Do you ? I wish you did." 
Up in the branches something stirred. It may have 
been Cupid — probably it was. 

But silence followed this conversational effort — a 
silence broken by a great heaving sigh, mostly of ex- 
citement, and the strains of the band which drifted out 
of the windows of the College Hall. 

And over them both, as over all other men and 
women, young and old, at the beginning and at the 
end, hung the moon and the stars. 

How good it is to be young and in lovel 



YOUTH 



VI 



35 



Unnoticed by Mrs. Guthrie and her two boys, 
toere was something more than a little pathetic in the 
Doctors eager, wistful attitude toward the rather 
thoughtless high-spirited, seething youth in the mid- 
dle of which he found himself for the first time 

1 h.s man had never been young. The atmosphere 
of the farm on which he had been born killed youth 
as foul a.r k.lls a caged bird. Poverty, sordidness and 
the gnm, constant struggle to live made his childhood 
and early days utterly devoid of the good sweet things. 
His mother, worn out and dispirited, died in giving 
h.m b,rth, and his father, bitter, lonely and filled with 
the irony that comes from a long and unprofitable 
hand- o-hand fight with mother-earth, let him bring 
himself up. He was turned out to work at a time 
when most lads are sent to school. He had to trudge 
daily into the straggling, one-eyed town, at an early 
hour, to report at the chemist's store where he obtained 
employment as an errand boy. Most of the small 
wages he earned were required by his father. From 
almost the very beginning life was to him a sort of 
whirling stream into which he had been flung before 
having been taught to swim. Mere self-preservation 
demanded that he should keep himself afloat He 
picked up education as a stray dog picks up an occa- 

W hT ?"^"''• '°"^^^^' S^^^' g"t i" this 
boy and deep down in his soul an ambition to become 

something better than his father, whose daily wrestle 



|1 






»' 



36 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

with nature — the most relentless of task-mistresses 
— had warped his character and stultified his soul. 
Young Hunter shuddered at the thought of living al- 
ways on the farm, of grubbing in the earth, of planting 
and hoeing and reaping, of facing the almost inevi- 
table tragedy of spoiled crops and ruined hopes, and 
the yearly set-backs of advancing freights and higher 
wages. He looked with growing horror and detesta- 
tion at the farm implements among which his father 
spent his life; and while he ran his errands, carrying 
medicines and soda syphons, he nursed a dream in his 
little cold heart, which grew out of the smell of medi- 
cines and the talk of illness that was all about him in 
the chemist store. It was to become a doctor and tend 
the needs of humanity and, if it was in his power, to 
save to other children the mothers who brought them 
into being. 

No wonder Dr. Hunter Guthrie wore strong glasses 
over his short-sighted eyes. At all times, with a sort 
of greed and an almost terrible eagerness, he read 
every medical book on which he could lay his hands, — 
in bed by the light of one candle, in the cubby-hole at 
the back of the store under the glare of the unshaded 
electric bulb, in trolley-cars and trains, and on the 
stoop of the shabby farmhouse so long as the light 
lasted. Later, after his day's work, he attended night 
classes, and even as he walked from the farm to the 
town he read. Spending sleepless nights and living 
laborious days he followed the example of many other 
brave and determined boys whose names gleam like 
beacons in the history of their country. He worked 



YOUTH 



37 



h.s way through the necessary stages until finally, af- 

rLfi^ty '° ''■'"""' '^^' ■' ""^'y broke his 
health, he became a qualified doctor. In order to earn 
the money for his courses he was at different times 
bell-boy m a country hotel, an advertisement writer in 
a manufacturer's office, a clerk for a real-estate man 
and a travehng salesman for safety razors. His vaca- 
tions were more arduous than his terms, and during 
hese he earned the money with which to pay his col- 
lege expenses. Every step up the ladder of innumer- 
able runps — which sometimes seemed to him impos- 
sible to chmb-was painful and difficult. So much 
concentration was needed from the very beginning- 
so much condensed determination and energy required 
— that at the age of twenty-five he seemed to have 
hved twice that number of years. No wonder then 
that the all-conquenng youthfulness of all tl - under- 
graduates amongst whom he found himself at Oxford 
awoke a sort of envy in his heart and startled him who 
had never been young. There was no meanness, 
jealousy or sense of martyrism in his feelings as he 
watched the kaleidoscopic picture of university life- 
only a sort of wonder and amazement that there were 
men m the world so lucky -so indescribably fortunate 
as to be able to carry boyhood and all its joys forward 
to an age when he had forgotten that such a period 
existed. Many times during those interesting and 
st.rr.ng days he stopped suddenly and thanked his God 
that he had been able to do for his own boys those 
th.ngs wh.ch no one had ever done for him, and give 
them such a chance in life as he had never had Ac- 



1! 



i lir 



U 




38 



THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 






tually to see Peter, his eldest boy, proving his muscular 
strength and his mental ability and moving among his 
fellows with such splendid popularity, filled him with 
pride and gladness. Here indeed was a very concrete 
evidence of his reward * it that long, arduous struggle. 
Like most men who have concentrated upon one 
thing. Dr. Guthrie was a child when it came to others. 
Athleticism, of which he knew nothing, filled him 
with admiration. The knack of conversation amazed 
him. Even to his wife he found it difficult to talk. 
To force himself to confide was almost impossible — 
it was like blasting a rock. One afternoon however 
he got nearer to an intimate expression of his feelings 
than ever before — perhaps because he was still under 
the influence of the intoxication of the youthfulness 
all about him. 

Kenyon had driven them out after tea to Shotover 
Hill. All the young people had gone on to Cuddes- 
den, leaving the doctor and his wife to sit and look 
down into the valley far below in which nestled the 
town and all its colleges and spires. It had been a 
golden day and the sun was setting with all the dig- 
nity and pomp of early summer, making the thin line 
of the Thames shine like a winding silver ribbon. 
There was something of exultation over the earth that 
evening and of untranslatable beauty, and the evening 
song of the birds was like that of choristers in a great 
cathedral. 

Unusual words seethed in the doctor's head. He 
was moved and thrilled. The rest and the relief of 
leaving his work, all the bustle and stir of the new life 



YOUTH 



39 



L J u .""" ^ temporary figure, seemed to take 
h.m back to h.s own early days when, with the little 
woman who sat by his side, he had stood with her in 
their first house, newly married 

of that faithful woman and «ed her cheek with a 
ouch of passion and gratitude. "My darling," he 

fhl^' r f 7f '°"''' '"^ P'°P*''y ^"-"^ °f the things 
that I feel about you and my children and the goodness 
of God. There are tears in my heart, and strange 
eelings. 1 feel oddly young and strong. I want S 
laugh and cry. I'd like to pick wild^oweTand 
make a little crown for your head. Don't laugh at 
me — please don't laugh." 

,> I^l "' u' 7°"!'" ^°°^ ^'' *'" ''^"d and pressed 
t to her cheek. " I laugh because that is how I feel, 
00. she said,-" young and glad and very happy to 

see my big Peter doing such wonderful things and 

!i ? I "" ^°'' y°"'^" ^"'^^'^ ^"d striven.- 
and how fine it is to see some of the results of it I 
was a litUe afraid before we came here that we might 
m Peer d,flferent-altered-perhaps older-but 
he s just the same. He's exactly like you " 

J. A B°T '^°°^ ^'' ^^'^ ^"d a sudden pain 

twisted his thin, studious face. " Oh no, no," he said 

was never like that. I wish to God I had been." 

•1 T. "t' ^'''' ^''"* ^^ '^ 'hat I've worked 

ght and day. He's my idea of a man. He's doing 

11 the things that I'd like to have done. He's me as 

I might have been if I'd had any luck-anv sort of 





. - ■ i ,'- 




■- -. 



;ii 



ill 



■ I 



40 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

a chance. Do I regret it? Am I jealous? No; be- 
cause if I hadn't lived such an opposite life I mightn't 
have desired to give my boy all this." He waved his 
hand towards the spires that rose in all their signif- 
icance out of the town away below. And then, with 
intense eagerness and a ring of wistf ulness in his voice 
that brought tears to his wife's eyes, he bent towards 
her. "Do you think he realizes this, Mary? Does 
Graham ever stop to think how hard I've worked to 
put him in Wall Street? Does Belle ever wonder 
what it's cost me in youth and health to give her so 
much more than she needs? I'm — I'm a queer, 
wordless, foolishly shy man. Old since the time they 
all three began to think and use their eyes,— neces- 
sarily concentrated and aloof away in that laboratory 
of mine, and — and sometimes I wonder whether my 
children know me and understand and make allow- 
ances. Do they, Mary, my dear one? Do they? " 

" Yes, my man, my brave and splendid man," she 
replied, '" they do, they do I " And in saying this she 
deliberately lied,— out of her great and steadfast love 
for this man of hers she lied. 

No one knew so well as she did that the father of 
her children might almost as well be a mere distant 
relation who lived in their home for reasons of con- 
venience and allotted money to their requirements at 
the proper time. No one knew so well as she did that 
Hunter Guthrie's tragic lack of childhood had dried 
out of his nature the power of understanding children. 
Never having been a child in any sense of the word — 
never having known the inexpressible joy of a moth- 



YOUTH 

was either working hard or tired out - he was unable 
to conceive what his own children needed in addition 
to all that they got hourly from his wife and from W^ 
own work. It had always seemed to him that in the 
possession o a mother they had everything good thai 
God could give them. It seemed to him thaf his own 
part was performed by providing for their needs. No 
man desired to be the father of sons and daughters 
more than he did. No man was prouder in the po 
session of them than he was and had always b^'; 

sent h^ to' f °l *"' ""'^ '''' ^"-^ ^- house 
sent him to his work with that sense of religion of 
which Carlyle wrote. To watch them shapinjfrom 

2f^r, /v ° '°"'*' ^'' "^^ """^^ satisfactory an" 
beautiful thing in his life. To be able, year after 

beTaS b° 'r ^"'/''" '""^^ ^- them was £ 
be and biggest reward - far greater and more glor- 
ous than the distinction he earned for himself and 
the intemational reputation that increased with each 

hfd f^r"'""- ''"'' ^''™' ^'^ ™°"*hs after Peter 
had left home to go to Oxford with a Rhodes scholar- 
hip he found himself unexpectedly endowed to the 
extent of over three million dollars under the will of 
a la e wealthy patient, so that he might, in the old 
nmns own words, "devote himself, without the f r t 

he nnMj ;r"f ' '"'"''°°^ ^^ « practitioner, to 
he noble and limitless work of a bacteriologist for 
he benefit of suflfering humanity all over the world " 

111" Vrl "'^^ °^ ""'' ^''"'^'•- that he offered up 
thanks. With what immense pride he notified the 



!^... 



3 



ill 



42 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

authorities at Harvard that his son was independent 
of the scholarship, which was free to send another 
man to Oxford. With what keen pleasure he was 
able to buy Graham a seat on the Stock Exchange, 
bring Belle out as a debutante and send his little Ethel 
to tho Iiest possible school. These things he could do, 
and did, but he could not and had never been able to 
do for them a better thing than all these,— win their 
confidence, their deep affection and their friendship. 
That gift had been killed in him. It could not be 
acquired, taught or purchased, and he had always been 
as much out of touch with his boys and girls as though 
he were divided from them by a great stone wall. It 
had always been with them, "Look out! Here's 
father!" instead of "Hello! Here's Dad!" His 
entrance into their playroom was the signal for silence. 
The sight of his studious face and short-sighted eyes 
and distrait, shy manner chilled them and reduced them 
to quietude and self-consciousness and suspicion. If 
he had treated them always as human beings, played 
with them, sat on the floor and built houses with their 
bricks, thrown open the door of his study to them, if 
only for half an hour every day, so that there might 
be no possibility of its becoming a Blue Room; if he 
had, as they grew into the habit of thinking and ob- 
serving and remembering, told them about himself 
and his own boyhood and in this way inculcated a 
mutual interest, a desire to respond and open out ; if, 
before the two boys had gone to college he had had 
the courage' to act on the earnest advice of a friend 
and speak to them on the vital question of sex, give 



^i l' 



YOUTH 

his house about his ear« T»,» , a 1 ^ " 

it .11 "^ "IS ears, i he sad and tragic oart of 

't all was that she knew utterly that na l^T 

itZtrL:^^--^--"-^-"^rtt^^^^ 






VII 

Belle had told Betty that she was « crazy " about 
Nicholas kenyon. There is usually a wildness of ex 
aggerat,on about this expression which renderst ^" 

about a tenor and a pomeranian, a so^alled joke H 

'n regard to Kenyon. however, Belle was reallv ^..A 
Wy .r..y In I,, „„, accu„,e dlc.io:."'.^"' T," 



. ^r 



iH 



i';,M 




It 



l£i ', 



l' ■ 



44 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

him vastly attractive. Kenyon was not surprised. 
Already he was a complete expert in the art of making 
himself loved by women. He knew exactly what they 
liked him to say and he said it with a touch of inso- 
lence which took their breath away and a following 
touch of deference which gave them back their self- 
respect. Belle was very much to his liking. Her 
rather Latin beauty, which was rendered unexplainable 
by the sight of her parents — her incessant high spirits 
and love of life — her naive assumption that she was 
the mistress of all the secrets of this world, amused, 
interested and tickled his fancy. Her beauty, fresh- 
ness and youth pleased him as an epicure, and he went 
out of his way to be with her as much as he could. He 
had no intention whatever of falling in love with her, 
— first of all because it was all against his creed to 
fall in love with anyone but himself ; secondly, because 
his way '. living demanded that he should have no 
partner >a his business,— all that he could win by his 
wits he would need. Nevertheless, he was quite as 
ready as usual to take everything that was given to 
him, and give nothing in return except flattery, well- 
rounded sentences and a good deal of his personal at- 
tention. 

During the week that passed so quickly he had only 
been able to see Belle with her people, and when he 
found that this bored her as much as it bored Uim, he 
set his brain to work to devise some plan bj- which he 
could escape with her from the party for a few hours. 
Needless to say he succeeded. 

On the night before the party were to leave Oxford 



YOUTH 



45 



he arranged another evening trip on the river, maneu- 
vred Peter into one punt with his father and mother, 
Graham and Betty, and got into another with Belle 
For some little time he poled along closely behind 
them, but as the river was full of similar .arties he 
found it easy to drop behind and dodge deftly into a 
back wrter. Here he tied up to a branch, set himself 
down on the cushions at Belle's side and lit a cigarette 

"How's that?" he asked. 

Belle laughed a little excitedly. "Very clever," 
she said. " I wondered how you were going to do 

He didn't find it necessary to tell her that he had 
performed a similar trick a hundred times. " Under 
the right sort of inspiration," he said, "even I can 
develop genius. Tell me something about New York, 
and what you find to do there." 

" I should have to talk from now until to-morrov/ 
mommg even to begin to tell you," she said. " I only 
came out last winter, but the history of it would fill 
a book. New York is some town and I guess a girl 
has a better time there than anywhere else in the 
world. Why don't you come and see something of it 
for yourself?" 

Kenyon leaned lightly against the girl's soft 
shoulder. " That's precisely what I'm going to do," 
he said. " Your father has given me a cordial invita- 
tion to stay at his house, and I shall go over with 
Peter in October." 

"Oh, isn't that f5ne!" cried Belle. "You'll love 
the place — it's so different." 



'II 



;! (■' 




46 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

" I'm not woirying about the place," said Kenyoa 
" I'm simply going for the chance of dancing with 
you to the band which really does know how to play 
rag-time. It'll be worth crossing three thousand miles 
of unnecessary water to achieve that alone." 

" I don't believe you," said Belle ; but all her teeth 
gleamed in the moonlight and her heart pumped a 
little. How wonderful it would be to become the wife 
of the Honourable Nicholas Kenyon, who seemed to 
her to be everything that was desirable. 

Kenyon picked up her hand and just touched it 
with his lips. "You don't believe it? Well, we'll 
see." He knew very well that if he had chosen to do 
so he could have kissed her lips, but his policy was to 
go slow. His epicurianism was so complete that he 
liked to take his enjoyment in sips and not empty his 
glass at a gulp. This girl whose imagined worldliness 
was so childlike was well worth all his attention. He 
looked forward with absolute certainty to the hour 
when he should place her on his little list of achieve- 
ments ; but like all collectors and connoisseurs he added 
to his pleasure by winning his point gradually, step 
by step, with a sort of cold-blooded passion. 

Belle was accustomed to men who were a little crude 
in their naturalness and who immediately voiced their 
admiration and their liking with boyish spontaneity. 
She had strings of beaux of all ages who immediately 
sent her flowers and presents and dogged her heels 
from dance to dance and rang her up constantly on the 
telephone and generally showed their eagerness with 
that lack of control which was characteristic of a na- 



YOUTH 



47 



tion which had deliberately placed women in the posi- 
tion of queens. 

Perhaps it v a xause this man's methods were so 
different that .U round him so attractive. He .ed 
her vanity and piqued it at the same time. He said 
more by raying nothing than any man had ever ven- 
tured to do. and he retired so quickly after an amaz- 
ing advance that he left her assuming more than if he 

although she had already dipped into the fastest New 
York set, that she should believe that at the end of 
every man's intention there was a marriage and a 
^rt of throne in his house. She little knew Nicholas 
Kenyon. She had had the good fortune to meet men 
in New York, and not collectors. 

"What are your father's plans when he leaves Ox- 
ford? asked Kenyon, leaning a little more closely 
against the girl's soft shoulder. 

" Why we're going to Shakespeare's country, to the 
English lakes and then to Scotland, where father's 
ancestors lived; and then in August we shall go to 
London for a week, and go home on the Olympic 
Why don t you go over with us? " 

"I should like nothing better," said Kenyon, "but 
as a matter of fact I shall wait until Peter has got 
hrough his various engagements. He rows at Hen- 
ley in July, you know,- the boat is entered for the 
Lady s Plate,— and then he comes home with me He 
wants to shoot my father's birds in August and see 
a little of English country life before he settles down 
to his law work in America." 






ii! ( 



I iff 


whImI 


^M 




m 




( 


- ^- '-"H 



48 



THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



If 



it 



Belle was silent for a few moments. She wished 
that this wonderful week could be extended over the 
whole of her holidays. She knew, and was really a 
little frightened at knowing, that when she left Ox- 
ford the next day she would leave behind her a heart 
that had hitherto been quite untouched. She was 
amazed and even a little annoyed to find that a mere 
week had brought about such a revolution in all her 
feelings and in her whole outlook on life. She had 
meant to have a perfectly wonderful time before fall- 
ing in love. 

" I suppose," she said, " that we shan't hear any- 
thing of you until we see you again, unlesi — unless 
you write sometimes to mother and tell her how you 
are and what Peter is doing." 

Kenyon didn't even smile. " Peter will write to 
your mother once a week, as usual — he's very con- 
sistent — and I'll get him to put in a postscript about 
me, if you like. I shall have some difficulty in pre- 
venting myself from writing to you from time to 
time, although I'm a child in the art of letter-writing." 

" Why should you prevent it ? I should simply love 
to have your letters." 

"But isn't your mother a little old-fashioned?" 

"Maybe," said Belle, "but does that matter? 
You've not met any American girls before — that's 
easy to see. We do just what we like, and if our 
mothers don't agree they don't dare to say so. Shall 
I tell you why ? Because it wouldn't make any differ- 
ence if they did." 

" Then I shall write," said Kenyon, " and give you 



YOUTH 

49 

brief but eloquent descriptions of English weather 
Enghsh poht.cs and the condition of nj hver-tha; 

n.e to el?' , ""'" " "'" "^ P^^^^''^ -^^ 'o^ 
me to leave your letters about," she said 

postscrits'"'''" "'''''' '""''"''"^ '^^' ^°" '^^"^°'- the 
"Im crazy about you!" said Belle; and this time 

"Nfckr" wi; '''"■'* ^''"''^ ^'''' ^°'<^^ shouting, 
eether nL ^^f"'T" ^*"y°" «^"*"^d himself to- 
Sc. '„ T''"'"'^ "' ''•^'"^ '•■^^"^bed, stood up 

"Th/ n T.' P"""'^ ^"* '"'° t''*^ •"«■•" stream 
The call of duty," he said -" such is life." It was 

=rri2::sr"^^'°-"-*^^'^'"-p-- 

When he saw the other punt he asked Peter, with a 

IhucWe ' ' "^ " ^''' ^'^ '° ^^^•'^'"'^ 'Miotic 
The landing stage was in the shadow, which was 
just as well. When Kenyon gave his h;„d to b1 
to help her out of the punt, he drew her close against 
him and with a touch of passion as unexpected as the 
sudden flash of a searchlight across a daJk sky fa 
kiss on her l.ps that took her breath away 

ann'lnH'7'^'"''' '° '*"= ^°'^' '^' ''""^ "" Peter's 
arm and dared not trust herself to speak. For the 
first t.me m her young life she had caught a glimpse 



\Ul' 



so THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

of its meaning. It left her strangely moved and 
thrilled. 

Little Mrs. Guthrie walked back with Kenyon, very 
proud of the fact that he was Peter's friend. 

Poor little mother! 



h M 



i. 



VIII 

On the steps of the Randolph Hotel, Mrs. Guthrie 
turned to Kenyon and asked him, with one of her most 
motherly smiles, to have some supper with them. Tel- 
egraphing quickly to Peter and Graham that they were 
not to accept the invitation, Kenyon said : " Nothing 
would give me greater pleasure — absolutely nothing. 
Unfortunately Peter and I have already accepted an 
invitation from two of our Dons and we cannot 
possibly get out of this dull but profitable hour." 

"How very disappointing!" said Mrs. Guthrie. 

"How silly!" said Belle. 

Betty merely said, "Oh! " but the rest of her sen- 
tence was condensed into one quick look at Peter. 

Peter, utterly without guile, turned round to Nich- 
olas Kenyon in blank amazement. " It's the first I'vi. 
heard of it," he said. " What on earth do you mean. 
Two of the Dons? Who are they ? " 

But Kenyon was an artist and a strategist, and 
therefore a liar. " My dear old boy ! What would 
you do without me? I'm your diary, your secretary, 
your guide, philosopher and friend. If you've forgot- 
ten the engagement I certainly haven't" And he 



i 



YOUTH 



51 



Scenting adventure and gathering that the two Dons 

were ,„ a 1 probability coming from the chorus of 

_^ I he Pirates of Penzance," Graham joined in quickly. 

I suppose I can't come and listen humbly to the 

learned conversation of these two professors? " 

can f.n'.r "^ "°'- " '^'"^ '^^"y°"- "No doubt you 
can ten them more about Wall Street in five minutes 

S m' rT-T '"™ '" '^"^'^ '■^^^- Therefore, 
\.^ ;,.""'""' ^"^ ^^'^'■'^ ^^ '""=' all say 'good- 
night. We II rejoin you in the morning for breakfast 
as arranged, and wind up what's been f he pleasan « 
week of my life, by driving out to WooLckfo; 

It was all done in the most masterly manner and 
when the three men left the hotel arm in a™ th^y 
were not gu.ded by Kenyon toward St. Giles, but to 

wthtrLtr ''' "^^'" ^^^ ^'"^^ ^•-"' *° ^^" 

••^Z^^'i /^ l^''-" "'^"^ ^''''' i-npatiently. 

Mother had set her heart upon having us to supper '• 
Mother has had us all day," replied Kenyon. 

Bear m mmd the fact that there are other women in 
the world to whom we owe a little gallantry. You and 
Grahan, are going to eat Welsh Rabbit at the some- 
what humble rooms of my little friends, Lottie Law- 
rence and Billy Seymour." 

"I'll see you damned first I " said Peter. '« IVe no 
use for these people. Come on, Graham, let's go back " 

Kenyon s face was wreathed in smiles. "It can't 



I J 



52 



THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



i«' 



I* 

m 
1 



be done, dear lad," he said. " Your mother would be 
the last person on earth to permit you to be discourte- 
ous to our two distinguished Dons, and by this time 
in all human probability Betty will be preparing for 
bed." 

Peter had been building all his hopes on another 
hour with Betty. She was leaving Oxford with his 
people the next afternoon and he wanted above all 
things, however incoherently, to let her know some- 
thing of the state of his feelings. He had never been 
so angry with Kenyon before. "Curse you!" he 
said. " You've spoiled everything. If you must play 
about with these chorus girls why can't you do it 
alone? Why drag me in? " 

Kenyon's eyes narrowed. "Only the angels die 
young, Peter, my friend," he said. "As I've been 
obliged to tell you before, you stand a pretty good 
chance of an early demise. Have you ever heard the 
word ' priggish ' ? For a whole week I've played the 
game by you and devoted myself, lock, stock and bar- 
rel, to your family. Mere sportsmanship demands 
that you make some slight return to me by joining my 
little party to-night. Don't you agree with me, 
Graham ? " 

Graham's vanity was vastly appealed to by the 
fact that this perfect man of the world had taken 
him into his intimacy. Hitherto he hadn't met Eng- 
lish chorus girls. He rather liked the idea. " Why," 
he said. " I can't see why we shouldn't go. I'm with 
you, anyway. Come on, Peter. Be a sport." 

But Peter held his ground. He had all the more 



YOUTH 



53 



reason for so doing because he had met Betty. " All 
right! •• he said. " You two can do what you jolly 
well like. Cut me out of it. I shall turn in. If 
thats being priggish — fine. Good-night." 

He wheeled round and marched off, and as he passed 
beneath the windows of the Randolph Hotel he drew 
up short for a moment and with a touch of knight- 
hness which was quite unself-conscious he bared his 
head beneath the window of the room in which be 
believed that Betty was to sleep, but which, as a mat- 
ter of fact, harboured a short, fat, wheezy Anglo-In- 
dian with a head as bald as a billiard ball. 

Kenyon disguised his annoyance under an air of 
characteristic imperturbability. "Well, that's our 
Peter to the life," he said, taking Graham's eager arm. 
" He's a sort of Don Quixote — a very pure and per- 
fect person. One of these days he's likely to come 
an unholy cropper, and that's to my way of thinking 
what he most needs. I don't agree with a man's being 
a total abstainer in anything. It narrows him and 
makes him provincial. Tl- n, too, a man who fancies 
himself as better than his , Hows is apt to wear a halo 
under his hat, and that disgu>ting trick ruins friend- 
ship and leads to a hasty and ill-considered marriage 
with the first good actress who catches him on the hop 
and makes use of his lamentable ignorance. Come 
along, brother, we'll see life together." 

"Fine!" said Graham. "Me for life all the 
time." 

So these two,— the one curiously old and the other 
dangerously young,— made their way to the stage door 



k. i 


■mm 



If 



N ■*: 



54 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

of the Theatre Royal and waited among the little 
crowd of undergraduates for the moment when the 
ladies of the chorus should have retouched their make- 
up and be ready for further theatricalisnis. 

Lottie Lawrence and Billy Seymour were the first 
out. The latter's greeting was exuberant. " What- 
ho, Nick ! Where's the blooming giant you said you 
were going to bring? " 

" Otherwise engaged, dear Billy ; but permit me to 
introduce to you a financial magnate from the golden 
city of New York." 

Billy was young and slim and so tight-skirted that 
her walk was almost like that of a Chinese Princess. 
Even under the modest light of the stage door-keep- 
er's box her lips gleamed crimsonly and her long eye- 
lashes stuck out separately in black surprise. Her 
small round face was plastered thickly with powder. 
She was very alluring to the very young. Her friend 
had come from an exactly similar mould and might 
have been a twin but for her manner, which was that 
of the violet — the modest violet — on a river's brim. 

Kenyon hailed a cab, gave the man the address in 
Wellington Square and sat himself between the two 
girls, with an arm round each. 

Billy Seymour had taken in Graham with one expert 
glance of minute examination. "Graham Guthrie, 
eh ? " she said. " It smacks of Caledonia, bag-pipes 
and the braes and banks o' bonnie Doon. I take it 
your ancestors went over on the S. S. Mayflower, of 
the White Star Line — that gigantic vessel which fol- 
lowed the beckoning finger of Columbus — and started 



YOUTH 



SS 



the^race which invented sky-scrapers and the cuspi- 
Graham let out a howl of laughter and told himself 

tl^V"^ '" °' ' ^°°*^ ""'"'"&■ '^P^"^"y «^ the 
ladies knees were very friendly. 

Lottie Lawrence placed her head on Kenyon's 
shoulder, s,ghed a little and said : " Oh. I'm so Sd 
ami^so hungry; and I've a thirst I wouldn't sell for a 

Kenyon tightened his hold. " All those things shall 
be remedied little one," he said. " Have no fSr " 

...Li"* •"^' "'*'''*• "'' ^^^'' «y« when they en- 
tered the s.t.ng-room of the sordid little house in 
which a senes of theatricals had lodged from tim^ 
.mmemonal were a half-dozen bottles of champagne 
- ent m by Nick's order. The two girls showed 

bZ T °" '" f ''=*'"'""^^ '" ^'ff--^"* ways. 
Billy fel upon one of the bottles as though it were 

her long-lost sister, pressed it to her bosom and placed 

a passionate kiss upon its label; while Lottie, with an 

eloquent gesture, immediately handed Graham a rather 

battered corkscrew. "Help me to the bubbly, boy " 

she said. "My throat is like a limekiln." ^' 

All the clocks of the Qty of Spires ere striking 
hree as Kenyon and Graham supported each other out 
mto the quiet and deserted street There was much 
powder on Graham's coat and a patch of crimson on 
Kenyon's left cheek. 

a ^!i:':hS^^'''^^'^^'"'-^^>''"-<> Kenyon 



'itii'. 




N »t 



ii 



yi 



56 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

" A hell of a big L," said Graham, with a very much 
too loud laugh at his feeble joke. " You certainly do 
know your way about." 

" And most of the short cuts," said Kenyon dryly. 
" Presently I shall scale the wall of St. John's, climb 
through the window of one of our fellows who's about 
to take holy orders, and wind up the night in the hos- 
pitable arms of Morpheus." This eventually Graham 
wat:hed him do, with infinite delight, and was still 
wearing a smile of self-congratulation as he passed 
the door of his mother's bedroom in the hotel and 
entered his own. 

His father heard the heavy footsteps as they went 
along the passage, but imagined that they were those 
of the night watchman on his rounds. 

Fate is the master of irony. 



IX 

The following morning at eight o'clock Peter, as 
fit as a fiddle, stalked into Kenyon's bedroom and 
flung up the blind. The sun poured in through 
the open window. Innumerable sparrows twittered 
among tht ; es in the gardens and scouts were mov- 
ing energet: illy about the quad. From the other 
windows the sounds of renewed life were coming. 
The great beehive of a college was about to begin a 
new and strenuous day. 

Kenyon was sleeping heavily with a blanket drawn 
about his ears. His clothes were all over the floor 



YOUTH 



57 



and a tumbler one-fourth filled with whiskey stood 
on he dressing-table among a large collection of ivory- 
backed brushes. liri,s, studs, tie-pins and other para- 
phernalia which belong to men of Kenyon's type,- 
the bloods of Oxford. With a chuckle. Peter dipped 
a large sponge in the water of the hip-bath which had 
been placed ready on the floor, and throwing back the 
blanket squeezed its contents all over Kenyon's well- 
cut face. 

The effect was instantaneous. The sleeper awoke, 
and cursed Peter's howl of laughter at the sight of 
this pale blinking man with his delicate blue silk 
pajamas all wet round the neck advertised the fact to 
the whole college that he was up and about 

Kenyon got slowly out of bed. "There are fools 
-damned fools -and Peter Guthrie." he said 
quietly. " What's the time ? " 

" Time for you to get up. shave and bathe, if you 
want to breakfast at the Randolph. How late were 
you last night ? " 

" Haven't a notion," said Kenyon. " The first 
faint touch of dawn was coming over the horizon, so 
far as I remember, when your little brother watched 
me climb through the window of the man Rivers upon 
whose 'tummie' I planted my foot. For a man 
who s about to enter the Church he has an astounding 
vocabulao' of gutter English. You look abominably 
fit. old boy -the simple life, eh? Heigh-ho 1- 
Manipulate this machine for me while I'm doing my 
hair. He picked up the small black case of his 
safety-razor and threw it at Peter, who caught it 



IMh 



im 




|i: 



'S 



58 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

Then he got into a very beautiful silk dressing-gown, 
stuck his feet into a pair of heelless red morocco slip- 
pers, and with infinite pains and accuracy made a cen- 
tre parting in his fair hair, in which there was a slight 
natural curl. 

From his comfortable position on the foot of the 
bed Peter watched his friend shave, — a performance 
through which he went with characteristic neatness. 
It was a very diflerent performance from the one 
through which Peter was in the habit of going. Soap 
flew all round this untidy man, giving the scout much 
extra work in his cleaning-up process. 

Kenyon didn't intend to enter into any details as 
to the orgy of the night before. He knew from pre- 
vious experience that Peter's sympathy was not with 
him. For many reasons he desired to stand well with 
his friend, especially looking to the fact that he needed 
an immediate loan. One or two of his numerous 
creditors were pressing for part payment. So he let 
the matter drop and took the opportunity to talk like 
a father to Peter on another point which had grown 
out of the visit of his people. "Tell me," he said, 
"what is precisely the state of your feelings in re- 
gard to your sister's friend? It seems to me that 
you're getting a bit sloppy in that direction. Am I 
right?" 

" No," said Peter, " ' sloppy ' isn't the word." 
"Oh! Well, then, what is the word? I may be 
able to advise you." 

"I don't want your advice," said Peter. "My 
mind is made up." 



YOUTH 



59 

Quick 



Kenyon turned round. "Is that ■ 
work." 

Peter nodded. " It's always quick when it's inev- 
liable. 

"Oho! What have we here — romance ? " 
" Yes ; I think so," said Peter quietly. 
"Who'd have thought it? Our friend Peter has 
met his soul-mate! Out of the great crowd he 
has chosen the mother of his children. It is to 
laugh ! " 

"Think so?" said Peter. "I don't." 
Kenyon put down his razor and stood in front of 
the man with whom he had lived for several years 
and who had now apparently come up against a big 
momwit m his life. It didn't suit him that Peter 
should be seriously in love yet. He looked to his 
friend to provide him with a certain amount of leisure 
in the future. -His plans would all go wrong if he 
had to share him with someone else. He had imagined 
that his friend was only temporarily gone on this little 
girl whose brief entry into Oxford had helped to make 
Eights week ve-y pleasant. It was his duty to find 
out exactly how Peter stood. 

" Do you mean to tell me," he asked, " that you've 
proposed to Betty Townsend ? " 

" Not yet," sai< Peter, " but I'm going to this morn- 
ing— that is if I have the pluck." 

" My dear fellow," said Kenyon, with a genuine 
earnestness, "don't do it. I've no doubt she'll jump 
at you, being under the influence of this place and 
seeing you as a small hero here; but take the advice 



1 r 



! ' i 



I I ,:l§ 



ln'- 



6o THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



ill 



ii 



$ 



of a man who knows and bring caution to your rescue. 
What'll happen if you tie j.mrself up to this girl? 
After all, you can't possibly be in love with her — 
that's silly. You'ri; under the influence of a few sil- 
ver nights, and that most dangerous of all things — 
propinquity. Dally with her of course, kiss her and 
write her letters in which you quote the soft stuff of 
the poets. That'll provide you with much quiet 
amusement and assist you in the acquisition of a liter- 
ary style; but, for God's sake, don't be serious. 
You're too young. You've not sown your wild oats. 
What's the use of taking a load of responsibility on 
your shoulders before you're obliged to do so? I'm 
talking to you like a father, old man, and I've the 
right." 

" Oh yes," said Peter, " you've the right — no man 
better — but you and I look at things differently. I 
want the responsibility of this girl. I want someone 
to work for, — an impetus — an ultimate end. It may 
seem idiotic to you that I know the right girl directly 
I see her, but all the same it's a fact. You see my 
undergraduate days are almost over. When I go 
home in the fall I shall start earning my living. What 
am I going to work for? A home, of course, and a 
wife and all that that means. If that's what you call 
romance, thank you, it's exactly what I want. Do you 
get me? " 

Kenyon shrugged his shoulders. " Then I don't see 
that there's anything more to be said. Does all this 
mean that you're going to chuck me? Supposing 
Betty accepts you? Are you going to dog her foot- 



YOUTH 



6i 



steps for the rest of the summer and leave me in the 
cart?" 

" Oil Lord, no! " said Peter. 
Thank God for small mercies ! And now if you'll 
give me a little elbow-room I'll have my bath 



"Buck up! Breakfast 



"Right-ol" said Peter, 
at nine o'clock." 

He went out, not singing as usual but ivith a cu- 
rious quietness and a strange light dancing in his 
eves. 

K :/ >M„ was left the sole master of that little bed- 
room. Ab he finished dressing he marshalled his 
tli')iit;hts and into them entered the figure of a certain 
very beau ;i Jul person who lived in a cottage on the 
borders o his father's estat.. liefore now she had 
tvisted yo mp men, quite a.^ r. ;'iar<t:c as Peter, out of 
their engagerients to s; ; ;^k- 
see that she ■ vorked h r ui; 
intend that his frienc .^h .u!. 
person except Nichol: : Ktr.' 
prevent it. 



liti^ 



^rls. He would 

i'eter. He didn't 

^ himself any 

<ng as re r. aid 



It -vas a rather curious meal,— this final breakfast 
at the Randolph Hotel. There were several under- 
currents of feeling which seemed to disturb the atmos- 
phere like cross winds. The Doctor and Mrs. Guthrie 
were genuinely sorry that the week had come to an 
end. It was one which would be filled with memo- 
ries. Graham would very willingly have remained at 



m 






1 1 • 


I 


m^ 



62 



THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



if 
Iff. 



it 



ill 



Oxford as long as Kenyon did. He had fallen a 
complete victim to the attractions of this master of 
psychology. He regarded him as the very last word 
in expert worldliness. He paid him the highest tribute 
that he considered it was possible for one man to pay 
another, by calling him " a good sport," and he looked 
forward with enormous pleasure to the time when he 
would be able to show Kenyon the night side of New 
York, with which he had himself begun to be well 
acquainted. 

As to the two girls, wonderful things had happened 
to both of them during that emotional, stirring, pic- 
turesque and altogether " different " week. It seemed 
almost incredible to them they had been in that old 
town for so short a time, during which, however, their 
little plans — their girlish point of view — had un- 
dergone absolute revolution. The high-spirited Belle, 
who had hitherto gone through life with a consistent 
exuberance and rather thoughtless joy, was rendered 
uncharacteristically serious at the knowledge that she 
would not see Nicholas Kenyon again for some 
months. Not for a moment did she regret the fact 
that she had fallen badly in love with him. It was a 
new sensation for her, and young as she was, it was 
the new thing that counted. Her mind was filled with 
dreams. In imagination she walked from one series 
of pictures info another and all were touched with 
excitement, exhilaration and a sense of having won 
something, the possession of which all her friends 
would envy her. 

In going over in her mind all that Kenyon had said 



YOUTH 



63 



to her, she could not put her finger on any actual 
declaration on his part; but his subtle assumption of 
possession, the way in which he touched her hand and 
looked at her over other people's heads with eyes which 
seemed to embrace her. seemed to her to be far more 
satisfactory than any conventional set of words ordi- 
nary under such circumstances. Then, too, there was 
that wonderful and sudden kiss on the landing stage 
in the shadow. Why, there was no doubt about it. 
She had, like Caesar, come and seen and conquered. 
She was to be the Hon. Mrs. Nicholas Kenyon. 
daughter-in-law of Lord Shropshire, of Thrapstone^ 
Wynyates. What a delightful surprise for father and 
mother, and how proud they would be of her! 

Betty knew that Peter intended to make her his 
wife. She knew it and was happy. His very inco- 
herence had been more eloquent to her than the well- 
rounded sentences of all the heroes of her favorite 
novels, and if he never said another word before she 
left, she would be satisfied. In her heart there was 
the sensation of one who had come to the end of a long 
road and now stood in a great wide open space on 
which the sun fell warmly and with great beauty. 

Not much was said by anyone, and the question of 
the afternoon train which was to leave at four-thirty 
was consistently avoided by them all. 

Breakfast over, the whole party followed Kenyon 
into the street, where two cars were waiting for the 
trip to Woodstock. They were to lunch at the old inn 
which stood beneath the gnarled branches of the oaks 
that had sheltered the Round Heads and Rovalists. 



1!!^ 



I 



64 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

The first car was Kenyon's roadster, in which he 
placed Mrs. Guthrie, the Doctor and Graham. He had 
intended that Betty should sit by his side as he drove, 
and that Peter should take Belle in his two-seater. 
But Master Peter was too quick for him this time. 
He had touched Betty on the arm and said : " You're 
coming with me." And before Kenyon could frame a 
sentence to break up this arrangement these two were 
off together with the complete disregard for speed 
limits which was peculiar to the Oxford undergradu- 
ate. Kenyon had the honesty to say about this to 
himself that it was well done, but all the same he was 
immensely annoyed. As he drove off with Belle on 
the front seat he was not, for at least a mile, a very 
talkative companion. Belle put his silence down to 
the fact that she was going away that afternoon. 
' Along St. Giles, past the burial ground, the Roman 
Catholic Church, Somerville, and into the Woodstock 
road as far as the Radcliflfe Infirmary, Peter kept the 
lead, and then the big car overtook him and left him 
behind. Graham waved his hand and shouted some- 
thing which Peter didn't catch. It was probably 
facetious. As far as Wolvercote Peter kept in touch 
with the car in front, when he began to fall gradually 
behind. He had a plan in the back of his head. 

The morning seemed to suit all that he had to say, 
if he found himself able to say it. The earth was 
warm with the sun. The hedges and trees were still 
in the first fresh vigor of early summer. Everywhere 
birds sang and were busy with their young. 

Peter pulled up short at the edge of a spinney. 



YOUTH 5g 

" Let's get out of here," he said, " I want to show you 
a corking little bit of country." And Betty obeyed 
without a word. She rather hked being ordered about 
by this big square-shouldered person 

They didn't go far.- hardly, in fact, fifty yards 
from the car,- and when they came to a small ooen- 
>ng among the beeches where bracken grew and " bread 
and cheese ' covered the soft turf with their little 
yellow heads, Peter said: "Sit down; I want lo 
speak to you." 

And again Betty obeyed without a word. It was 
coming -she knew that it was coming — and the 
only thing she was afraid about was that Peter would 
hear the quick beat of her heart. 

He laid himself full stretch at her feet, threw off his 
cap arid ran his fingers through his hair. " You know 
this place," he said. 

" I ? No, I've never been here before " 

frien?'' tT ^'''- ^''"''" ^'" ^'"^ ^'^'^ ^""^ 

triends. They come out every night from the first 
of May until the first of October. Can't you see the 
marks their feet have maae as they danced here in the 
nng? Its awfully queer. This is the first place I 
came to after I got to Oxford -all the leaves were 
red -and I sat here one afternoon alone and won- 
dered how long it would be before I should look up 
and see you. I've often come here since, winter and 
summer and listened for sticks to crackle as you came 
lau" h/'^'°"^'' the trees to find me. Why don't you 
" Why should I ? " 



.*:Kifl 



v 



V 



66 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

"I knew you wouldn't. If you had it wouldn't 
have been you." 

He turned himself round on to his elbows and 
looked up at her, and remained looking and looking. 
And Betty looked back. Her heart was beating so 
loudly that it seemed to her that someone was whack- 
ing a carpet somewhere with a stick. She wondered 
whether she would be able to hear Peter when he spoke 
again, — if ever he did. 

And Peter said : "I'm going to begin to be a man 
exactly five months from to-day. That is to say, I'm 
going into a law office in New York to make a begin- 
ning. I'm going to work like the dickens. Do you 
know why?" 

Betty shook her head and then nodded. He was a 
long ti'me commg to the point. If he wasn't quick 
she'd simply have to scream. Her heart was up in her 
throat — it was most uncomfortable. 

Peter went on. Somehow words came easy to him. 
The earth was so friendly and so motherly and so very 
kind, ai.d after all this was his spot and she was there 
at last. " I forget the number of the house," he said, 
" but up on the eighth floor of it, facing south, there's 
a most corkmg apartment. The rooms are large and 
can be filled with big furniture and enonnous booiv- 
cases. I'm going to work to get that. I don't know 
how long it'll take, but I'm going to ask you to help 
me to get it. Will you?" 

Betty nodded again. Someone was beating the car- 
pet in a most violent manner. 

Peter, without another word, sprang up, put two 



:Mm^m^^^m^^msm^msmmfmmm- 



YOUTH 



67 



large strong hands under Betty's ■ Ibows and set her 

2l r I'n . t"'"' "P '" '^' '°P ''""'^" °f his coat 
and he held her there tight and it hurt her cheek. But 

oh. how fine and broad the chest was behind it and how 
good ,t was to nestle there. She heard him say much 
that she forgot then, but remembered afterwards - 
simple boyish things expressed with deep sincerity and 
a sort of throb — outpourings of pent-up feelings- 
not m the very least incoherent, but all defirate and 
veor good. And there they stayed for what appeared 
to be a long t.me. The man with the carpet had gone 
away but without looking up Betty knew that there 
were hundreds of little people dancing around them in 
the ring and the httle clearing full of the yellow heads 
of wild flowers seemed to have become that great open 
space and out of it, between an avenue of old trees 
stretched the wide road which led to,- the word was 
the only one in the song that filled her brain,- moth- 
erhood ! Motherhood ! 

A rabbit ran past them frightened, and Betty sprang 
away. Peter! What will the others say"' 

Peter shook himself and his great laugh awoke the 
echoes of the woods. " I don't care what anybody 
says, he answered. " Do you ? " 

" Ves. Let s go. We shall be late for luach '• 
And Peter picked her up, carried her to the car 
kissed her, put her in, and drove away 



r 



moM^TJT: 



68 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



V'-ii 



I -'< 



XI 

Peter and Kenyon left the station arm in ann. 
They had watched the train round the corner and dis- 
appear. Many hands had waved to the crowd of un- 
dergraduates who had come to see their people and 
friends oflf. Peter had stood bareheaded with his hand 
still tingling with the touch of Betty's. 

They walked slowly back to college, each busy with 
his thoughts. Exultation filled Peter's mind. Ken- 
yon was wondering how much he could touch Peter 
for. In the procession of returning undergraduates 
they made their way under the railway bridge and 
along the sun-bathed but rather slummy cobblestone 
road over which the tram-cars ran. They passed the 
row of little red brick houses — most of which were 
shops — and the factory, stammering smoke, and 
turned into the back way which led by a short cut to 
Worcester. 

Oxford had resumed her normal atmosphere. Fa- 
thers and mothers, uncles, guardians, brothers, sisters 
and cousins, who had all descended upon the town, had 
departed. No longer were the old winding streets set 
alight by the many colored frocks of pretty girls, nor 
were they any longer stirred into a temporary bustl'.; 
by the great influx of motor-cars. Undergraduates 
held possession once more and with their peculiar 
adaptability were making hasty preparations for the 
long vacation. 

Peter led the way to his sitter, loaded his inevitable 



Plfi 



YOUTH 



69 



pipe and .at in the sun on the sill of the open window 
With fastidious care Kenyon stuck a cigarette into a 
long meerschaum holder and laid himself down on the 
settee. He had worked very hard during the week 
and had very much more than carried out his promise 
to Peter to make himself pleasant. The moment had 
come when he might certainly lead the way up to his 
reward. 

,. ,f,f '"' ^°°^ ** "^""'^ *"" °f ^'^ ^"end's mouth 
W hat dyou think ? " he said. " W hen I was saying 
good-bye to the Governor on the platform he took me 
aside and gave me a cheque. He did it in his curious 
apologetic way which always makes me feel that he's 
someone else's father, and said : ' I think this will see 
you through for a month or two.' Gee! It's some 
cheque, Nick! I don't think I shall have to toudi the 
old man down for another bob until I have to book my 
passage. His generosity Iea\es me wordless. I wish 
to God I'd been able to say sonietliing nice. As it was 
I had to tell mother to thank him for me." He went 
over to his desk, fished out a cheque-book, sat down 
and made one out in his large round boyish liandurit- 
ing. 

Kenyon watched him intently. He hoped that it 
might be for hims-lf and fnr fittv sovcreiRn.s. That 
amount, carefully split up. would keep some of his 
more pressing tradesmen quiet for a short time 

" Is this any good to you. old man ? " said Peter 
He dropped the cheque on to Kenyon's immaculate 
waistcoat. It was for a hundred pounds. 

. -IP master para.Site v.as iaken by surprise almost 



il, .. ;l 



:r 









70 



THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



for the first time in his life and he was sincerely 
touched by this generosity. " My dear old Peter ! 
This is really devilish kind of you I I'm exceedingly 
grateful. My exit from Oxford can now be made 
with a certain amount of dignity. I'll add this amount 
to your other advances, and you must trust in God and 
my luck at cards to get it back." 

"Oh, that's all right," said Peter. "You'd have 
done the same for me. What's the good of friend- 
ship anyway if a man can't share his Ltjnuses with a 
pal? Well, well! There goes another Commem: — 
the last of them for us. Everything seems awfully 
flat here without, — without my people. What d'you 
think of the Governor? " 

Kenyon folded the cheque neatly and slipped it into 
a small leather case upon which his crest was em- 
bossed in gold. It was one of the numerous nice 
things for which he owed. " Your father," he said, 
" is a very considerable man. I made a careful study 
of him and I've come to the conclusion that all he 
needs from yov and Graham is human treatment. If 
he were my father I should buy a metaphorical chisel 
and an easily manipulated hammer and chip off all his 
shyness bit by bit as though it were concrete. Prop- 
erly managed there's enough in Dr. Guthrie to keep 
you in comfort for the rest of your life without doing 
a stroke of work. What age is he — somewhere 
about fiity-three I suppose? In all human probability 
he is good — barring accidents — for another fifteen 
years or so. Then, duly mourned, and, I take it, con- 
siderably paragraphed in your newspapers, he will go 



YOUTH 



71 



to h,s long rest and you will come into your own. 
W.th even quite ordinary diplomacy you can use those 
hf een years to considerable advantage to yourself - 
<lallymg gently with life and adding considerably 'to 
your experience, making your headquarters at his 
house. You can do the semblance of work in order 
to satisfy h.s rather puritanical notion,— but I can't 
see that there'll be any need for you to sweat. For 
instance become a poet -that's easy. There are 
stacks of sonneteers whom you could imitate. Or you 
could call yourself a literary man and do nothing more 
than establish a sanctum-sanctorum in which to keep 
a neat pile of well-bound manuscript books and ac- 
quire a library. If I were you I should adopt the lat- 
ter course - it sounds well. Ifll satisfy the old man 
and all the while you're not writing the great book 
he II pat himself on the back and congratulate himself 
on having had you properly educated. During all this 
t.me you can draw from him a very nice yearly in- 
come, and then make your splash when natur- has laid 
her relentles: han.l upon the old man's shoulder." 

There was a moment's pause, during which Peter 
looked very curiously at the graccfn.l :n,!r,!ent r.ian who 
ay upon his settee. " If I didn't k.,.. that you were 
talking for effect." he said, " I should tai . you by .he 
scruff of your neck and the seat of yor- ' r^ u„s a d 
|.url you down-stairs. I know you Letter th.r, to 
believe that you are the cold-blooded brute that voii 
make yourself out to be. Anyhow, we'll aot d'ows 
tlie matter. The one useful thing you have san — 
and on which I shall try to act -is that Graham anC 



W' 




I:'l 



72 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

I must try to be more human with the Governor. He 
deserves it. What's the program? " 

" For me," said Kenyon, " dinner with Lascelles and 
bridge to the early hours. With good cards and a 
fairly good partner I shall hope to make a bit. What 
are you going to do? " 

" I shall dine in Hall," said Peter, " and then go out 
for a walk." 

" I see." Kenyon got up, filled his cigarette case 
from Peter's box and stood with his back to the man- 
tel-piece. " You proposed to Betty to-day, didn't 
you ? " 

" How the deuce did you know that ? " 

Kenyon laughed. " My dear fellow," he said, 
" everybody knows that. You exuded romance when 
you arrived late at the Inn. The very waiter guessed 
it, and was so stirred, being Swiss, that he very nearly 
poured the soup down your mother's neck. And when 
your mother looked at you I saw something come into 
her eyes which showed me that she knew she had lost 
you. I wouldn't be a mother if you paid me! " And 
then he held out his hand with that charm of which he 
was past-master. " ' Friend that sticketh closer than 
a brother,' three years ; dashed bit of a slip of a girl, 
one week,— and where's your friend? Well, good 
luck, Peter! She's a nice little thing. Dream your 
dreams, old boy, but don't altogether forget the man 
who's been through Oxford with you." 

Peter grasped the hand warmly. " Don't be an 
ass ! " he said. " Go and brush your back hair. It's 
all sticking up." 



YOUTH 



73 



And when he was alone, except for a golden patch 
of evening sun which had found its way through his 
wndow and had spilt itself on his carpet. Peter pulled 

OGod! he said. " Help me to become a man." 



m 



xn 

No one knew, because no one was told, of the many 
hours of gnef which little Mrs. Guthrie nduredTer 

r-ef. One, the mev.table realization that the time 

her soa She remamed his mother, but she was no 

°Kr ."""^ °'''T:''' ^-^'^ '^^'^ -t told he 
about Betty at once and bad left it for her to find out. 
as the others d.d. And this hurt badly. He had al 
S\t ;" r *\'^''^ °' *^"-^ her'everything.- 
fnH fi ^r T' V^'" "' ^"^ ^'""'^ °" - '«vel with her, 

great height. Every one of his numerous letters writ- 
ten wh.Ie he was so far away from home contained the 
outpounngs of h.s soul -his troubles, d.fficuhies tri- 
umphs, wonderings and short incoherent cries' for 
help. As Kenyon said, she had only to look at him 

with R.r ^r''''f '"'° '^' °''' ^"" ^' Woodstock 

w.th Betty to know that she had lost him. She waited 

or h,n, ,hat afternoon to tell her.- but he never 

hat he M '' T ^" '"'° '^' *"'■" ''he hoped 
that he would remember, but he didn't. That wasn't 



ilif 



a 'J 







««C«OCOfY DESOIUTION TtST CHART 

(ANSI and ISO TEST CHART No, 2) 




_^ APPLIED IM/IGE li 

^BT- 'fiSJ East Mgin Street 

^JS Rochester. Nem Yorh 14609 USA 

"■^= (716) *S2 - 0300 - Phone 

^= (7t6) 288 - 59B9 - Fo- 



a '; 



74 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

like her Peter, she told herself again and again. What 
was she to think but that it only needed one short week 
and a very pretty face to make him forget all the long 
years of her love and tenderness. It was very, very 

hard. 

It is true that for the remainder of their holiday, 
during which, with her husband, Graham, Belle, and 
Betty, Mrs. Guthrie went from one charming place to 
another, seeing shrines and looking down from fa- 
mous heights on garden-like valleys of English coun- 
try, Peter's letters came as regularly as usual. They 
were no shorter and no less intimate; and in the first 
one that she received, the day after leaving Oxford, 
he told her his great news,— but he hadn't spoken of 

it he hadn't cot.ie to her at once, and she felt with 

a great shock of pain that she was deposed. Also she 
was well aware of the fact that the same posts which 
brought her letters brought letters to Betty — and she 
was jealous. 

Uttering no word of complaint, even to the Doctor, 
little Mrs. Guthrie nursed her sorrow and went out of 
her way to be very nice to Betty. Her mother-in- 
stinct told her that she must win this girl; otherwise 
there was a chance that she might in the future see very 
little of Peter. In all this she had one small triumph, 
of which she made the most. Her letters from Peter 
contained more news than those written to Betty, and 
thus she was able to score a little over the girl. With 
an air of great superiority, very natural under the cir- 
cumstances, she told Betty and the others the manner 
in which Peter had gone down from Oxford; of the 



YOUTH 



75 



dinner that was given to him by the American Club,— 
a great evening, during which he was presented with a 
silver cigarette box covered with signatures,— of the 
farewell luncheon with his professors and the delight- 
ful things that they said to him there; of his strenuous 
doings at Henley, the stern training, the race itself in 
which his boat was beaten; of the wild night on the 
Vanderbilt barge; of the few cheery days spent in 
London with a bunch of the Rhodesmen; and finally 
his preparations for his visit to Thrapstone-Wynyates 
in Shropshire, the famous old Tudor House of Ken- 
yon's father. 

Three times during these pleasant weeks Peter ran 
down to see,— not her, but Betty, and went out with 
her with his face alight and then hurried back to his 
engagements, having given her, his mother, who loved 
him so, several hugs and a few incoherent words. It 
was the way of life, youth to youth, but it was very 
hard. 

On the afternoon of the fifth of August, when the 
party crossed the gangplank at Southampton to go 
aboard the Olympic, little Mrs. Guthrie told herself 
that in a few minutes she would see Peter's great form 
elbowing through the crowd, although he had not said 
that he would be there to say good-bye. She almost 
hoped that something might prevent him from being 
in time, because she knew that he would not come solely 
to hold her in his arms, but for another reason. Noth- 
mg, however, did prevent him. He followed them al- 
most instantly on board ; and although he never left her 
side, he surreptitiously held Betty's hand all the time 



■' ( 



76 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

A smile of unusual bitterness crept all about the 
little woman's heart. It was very hard. He was her 
boy — her son — her first-born and the apple of her 
eye. She had come up for the first time to one of the 
rudest awakenings that a mother can ever know. And 
presently when the cry, " All ashore that's going 
ashore ! " went up and Peter put both his big arms 
about her and said, " Good-bye, mummie, darling, I 
shall come home soon," she broke into such a fit of 
weeping and kissed him with a passion so great that 
the boy was startled and a little frightened. There 
was no time to think or ask quesHons. There was 
his father's hand to shake, and Graham's, and Belle 
to kiss. There was also Betty, and she was suddenly 
hugged before them all. 

As the big liner sent out its raucous note of de- 
parture and moved away from the dock the little 
mother was unable to see the bare head of her boy 
above the heads of the great crowd. Her eyes were 
blinded. " He doesn't understand," she said to her- 
self. " He doesn't understand." 

Poor little mother ! It was very hard. 



XIII 

The cottage on the borders of Lord Shropshire's 
park was just as pretty and just as small as the little 
lady who lived there. It was appropriately called 
" The Nest," although there was no male bird in it 
and it was devoid of young ones; but Mrs. Randolph 



YOUTH 



77 



Lennox was so like a bird, with her triUy soprano 
vo:ce, her quick darlings here and there and the pe- 
culiar way she had of getting all a-flutter when people 
called, that the name of her charming little place — 
first given by Kenyon — stuck, and .vas generally used 
It was perched up on high ground overlooking the 
gardens of the old Tudor House,- those wonderful 
itahan gardens in which Charles II had dallied with 
his mistresses on his return from his long, heart-break- 
ing and hungry exile. It was tree-surrounded and 
creepers grew up its old walls to its thickly thatched 
roof. For many years it had been occupied by the 
agent of the estate, until — so it was said -it was 
won by Mrs. Lennox from the present Lord Shrop- 
shire as the result of a bet. 

No one had ever seen Randolph Lennox and many 
people didnt believe that he was anything more than 
a myth; but the little woman gave herself out as the 
widow of this man and was accepted as such Her 
income was small, but not so small as to preclude her 
from playing bridge for fairly large stakes, dressing 
exquisitely, riding to the hounds and keeping an ex 
tremely efficient menage, consisting of two maid serv- 
ants and an elderly gardener. It enabled her also to 
spend May and June in London yearly at a little hotel 
in Half Moon Street, Piccadilly, from which utterly 
correct little house she was taken nightly to dinner 
and to the theatre by one or other of the numerous 
young men who formed her entourage. Never taken 
actually into the heart of London society, she man- 
aged with quiet skill to attach herself to its rather 



■:• i 



I 



78 THE SINS OF IHE CHILDREN 

long limbs, and her name was frequently to be found 
in the columns of society papers as having been seen 
in a creation by Paquin or Macinka at Ranalagh or 
Hurlingham, the opera, or lunching at the Ritz. 

At one time the tongue of rumor had been very 
busy about Mrs. Randolph Lennox,— " Baby " Len- 
nox as she was commonly called. It was said that she 
had beei. lifted out of the chorus of the Gaiety at the 
age of nineteen by His Serene Highness, the Prince 
of Booch-Kehah ; that she had passed under the con- 
trol of Captain Harry Waterloo, and eventually, be- 
fore disappearing for a time, figured in the Divorce 
Court as a corespondent. The tongue of rumor is, 
however, in the mouth of Ananias, and as Baby Len- 
nox never spoke of herself except, a little sadly, as a 
woman whose brief married life was an unfortunate 
memory, her past remained a mystery and people were 
obliged to accept her for her present and her future. 
She was so small — so golden-haired — so large eyed 
— so fresh and young and dainty — so consistently 
charming and birdlike — that she was the Mecca of 
very young men. With the beautiful trustfulness of 
the male young they believed in her, and over and over 
again she could have changed her name to others which 
were equally euphonious and which, unlike her own, 
could be discovered in the Red Book. But as there 
was no money attached to them she continued to re- 
main a young and interesting widow and to live in the 
little cottage on the hill and to pop in and otit of the 
Shropshire house as the most popular member of its 
kaleidoscopic parties. 



YOUTH 



n 



Whether there was a- y truth in the story that the 
present Lord Shropshire was related to her in a fa- 
therly way no one will ever knov except perhaps 
Nicholas Kenyon, who in his treatment of her was 
uncharacteristically brotherly. These two, at any 
rate, had no secrets from each other and both regarded 
life from the same peculiar angle. As parasites they 
had everything in common and they assisted each other 
and played into each other's hands with a loyalty that 
was praiseworthy even under these circumstances. 

Nicholas Kenyon's mother — a very large, hand- 
some woman with brilliant teeth and amazing good- 
nature, who, even when in the best of heahh, never 
finished dressing till four o'clock in the afternoon and 
then never put much on — was undergoing a rest-cure 
in the west wing of Thrapstone-Wynyates when the 
boys arrived for the shooting. For nearly a year she 
had been playing auction every night until the very 
small hours and had, while in a nervous condition, 
stumbled across an emotional pamphlet written by a 
Welsh revivalist, which sent her straight to bed. She 
was really greatly shaken by it and perhaps a little bit 
frightened. It did not mince words about the future 
of women of her type, and she was shocked. Heaven 
seemed to her to be a place into which she had the 
same inherited right to walk as the Royal Enclosure 
at Ascot; but this vehement little book put a widely 
different point of view before her. Therefore it hap- 
pened that the first woman to whom Peter was intro- 
duced was the little widow, " Baby " Lennox, who was 
acting as hostess. 







8o 



THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



Two evenings before she met Peter she had received 
a letter from Kenyon, which ran as follows : 

" Carlton Hotel, 
"Dear Old Girl: 

" I shall turn up at home on Thursday in time for tea. 
I hear that mother is enjoying herself in the throes of 
some very pleasant imaginary complaint of sorts and has 
retired to the solitude of the west wing. After a busy 
season she no doubt wishes to read Wells' new novel of 
socialism and seduction and the latest Masefield poems, 
which always remind me of the ramblings of rum-soaked 
sailors in a Portsmouth pub. I, for one, shall miss her 
florid and inaccurate presence and the deliciously flagrant 
way in which she cheats at Bridge ; but if father has gath- 
ered round him an August house-party on his usual line^, 
i look forward to a cheeiy time, — dog eating dog, if I 
may put it li -e that. I am bringing with me the man 
with whom I have shared rooms at Oxford, — Peter 
Guthrie. He's the American of whom I have opoken to 
you before. I am especially anxious for him to meet 
you, because, while under the hypnotic influence of Ox- 
ford in all the beauty of late spring, he has been fool 
enough to get himself engaged. Now, not only is Guthrie 
very useful to me, having a wealthy father and being 
himself a generous soul, but I am going to New York 
with him in October to see if that city can be made to ren- 
der up some of its unlimited dollars, and I don't want him 
to be hanging, booby-eyed, at the heels of a girl until such 
time as I have found my feet. You have a wonderful 
way with the very young and unsophisticated and I shall 
really be enormously obliged if you will work your never- 
failing wiles on my most useful friend and draw his at 
present infatuated mind away from the nice, harmless 



ii. 



YOUTH 8, 

little girl vvho has just sailed. Fasten on him. my dear 

our ho , day. Go as far as you dare or care.- the farther 
the better for my sake and eventually for his own H 

down from his self-made pedestal It will a ^''^^S'" 

" Yours ever, 

" N. K." 

Quite unconscious of this scheme, Peter fell into the 

sttir T^ h- ''" '^^"'^"' °'^ '•°" '^^^ ^^^ 

usual gusto. To his unsuspicious eyes Baby Lennox 
was quite the truist charming woman'he had evt^^t 
. He was delighted, a little surprised and even a little 
ealotis at the relations whi.h existed between Kenyon 

treated'eacTth "' "" """^'^ *° "°''- '^^^ *" 
Sher arf " '"°''' "'^ P^'^ °'- '''°tf>-«. than 
eah other '°"' T^t ^"^'^^'^ "Pen and frank with 
each other, walked about arm in arm, played tennis 



,■ I 



if 



w 



■.^'l : 



82 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

and billiards together and often spenv hours in each 
other's society, laughing and talking. He noticed, too, 
that Kenyon always called his father " To^s," a name 
which had grown into daily use from the time when, 
as a tiny lad just able to talk, the things that most 
caught his fancy were Lord Shropshire's riduig-boots, 
in which he seemed to live, being mostly on h'^rseback. 
" Nicko " was what his father called Kenyon, — that 
and old man or old boy. He wished most deeply that 
he and his own father were on such good terms. 

If Peter had heard the sort of things tnese two 
talked about and confided to each other, his surprise 
would hav elaborated into amazement. The elder 
man took infinite pleasure in telling the one who was 
so complete a c.iip off the same block the most minute 
details of his love affairs during the time that he was 
at Sandhurst for his army training, while he was in a 
crack Cavalry regiment and while he knocked about 
London and Paris and Vienna before and r.iter his 
marriage. Also he revelled in relating his racing and 
gambling experiences, describing the more shady epi- 
sodes with witty phrases and a touch of satire that was 
highly entertaining to the younger man. They both 
agreed, with a paradoxical sort of honesty, deliberately 
and inherently, that they were not straight and ac- 
cepted each other as such, and the father used fre- 
quently to speculate from which of his dull, responsible 
and worthy ancestors he acquired the tendency. It 
was certainly not from the late Lord Shropshire, 
whose brilliant work as a Cabinet Minister in several 
Governments and as one of the most valued advisers 



YOUTH 



83 



of Queen Victoria had placed his name permanently 
m the annals of his country. " We ge. it fro-i one of 
the women of the family, I susnect, Nicko," ne had a 
way of saying, after a more than usually excellent din- 
ner '• A dear, pretty creature who lived a double life 
wth dehghtful finesse -the great lady and the hu- 
iTi3a woman by turns. What d'you think, old boy' 
At a,,/ rate, you and I make no pretences and pon 
my soul! I don't know which of us is the better ex- 
ponent in the delicate and difficult art of sleight of 
hand. I wish I were going to America with you I 
fancy that we should make in double harness enough 
'o enable us to retire from the game and live like little 
gentlemen. As it is, you'll do very well, IVe no doubt 
from what I hear, the country reeks with wealthy 
young men waiting to be touched ' v an expert such as 
you are. Do some good vork, . .d fellow, and when 
you come back you shall lend me a portion of your 
earnings, eh.'" 

They were a strange couple, these two, capable out- 
wardly charming and cut out for a very different way 
of hfe but for the regrettable possession of a kink 
which caused them to become harpies and turn the 
weaknesses of unsuspicion of human nature to thei- 
own advantage. Some psychologists might have gone 
out of their -ay to find excuses for thes men and 
endeavor to p.-ove that they would both have run 
straight but for the fact that they were always pushed 
for money. They would, however, have been wrong. 
Just as some men are born orators, some with me- 
chs-.ical and creative genius and some wi'.h the gift of 



f. 



f ' 



:*- \ 



^' I 




!p 



I 



84 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

leadership, these two men were bom crooked, and un- 
der no conditions, even the most favorable, could they 
have played any game according to the rules. 

The men of the party were all excellent sportsmen 
and good fellows, and the women more than usually 
delightful representatives of English society. As a 
m^ner of fact, the men were all,— like Kenyon's fa- 
ther, — living on their wits and just avoiding criminal 
piosecution by the eighth of an inch. They called 
themselves racing men, which, translated into cold 
English, means that they were people of no ostensible 
means of livelihood, who attended every race meetmg 
and backed horses on credit, taking their winnings and 
owing their losses until chased by crook solicitors. 
They all bore names well known in English history. 
They had all passed through the best schools and either 
Oxford, Cambridge or Sandhurst. One or two of 
them were still in the army. One had been requested 
to resign from the navy, the King having no further 
use for his services, and one was a Member of Parlia- 
ment, having previously been hammered in the other 
house,— that is to say the Stock Exchange. The 
women of the party were either wives rl these men 
or rot, as the case may be. At any rate they were 
good to look at, amusing to talk to, and apparently 
without a care in the world And if Lord Shrop- 
shire, in welcoming Pecer to his famous house, had 
said.'like the spider to the fly, " Come into my parlor 
so that whatever you have about you may be sucked 
dry by us," he would have been strictly truthful. Sev- 
eral other such men as Peter had gone into that web 



YOUTH 



8S 



sound and whole, but they had come out again with 
many things to regret and forget. 
Who could say whether Peter would escape? 



XIV 

Peter had, as he duly reported to his mot! t and to 
Betty, a corking time at Thrapstone-Wyn^ates. 

Although an open-air man, an athlete, whose read- 
mg had always been confined to those books only that 
were necessary to his work,— dry law books for the 
most part,— Peter was far from being insensible to the 
mellow beauty of the house, and his imagination, un- 
cultivated so far as any training in art or architecture 
went, was subconsciously stirred by the knowledge 
that its floors and stone walks and galleries were worn 
by the feet of a long line of men and women Tvhose 
loves and passions and hatreds had been worked out 
there and whose ghostly forms in all the picturesque 
trappings of several centuries haunted its echoing Hall 
and looked down from its walls, from their places in 
gold frames, upon its present occupants. 

The atmosphere of Oxford, and especially of his 
own college, had often spun his thoughts from rowing 
and other strenuous, splendid, vital things, to the great 
silent army of dead men whose shouts had rung 
through the quad and whose rushing feet had gone 
under the old gate. But this house, standing bravely 
and with an indescribable sense of responsibility as 
one of the few rear-guards of those great days of 



•' i ■ 



86 



THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



[I 



chivalry and gallant fighting for heroic causes, moved 
him differently. Here women had been and their per- 
fume seemed to hang to the tapestries, and the influ- 
ence of their hands that could no longer touch was 
everywhere apparent. Often Peter drew up short, on 
his way up the wide staircase, to listen for the click 
of high heels, the tinkle of a spinet and the rattle of 
dice. Everywhere he went he had a queer but not 
unpleasant sense of never being alone, just as most 
men have who walk along the cloisters of a cathedral 
whose vast array of empty prie-dieus have felt the 
knees of many generations and in whose lofty roof 
there is collected the voices of an unnumberable choir. 
Up early enough to find the dew still wet on flowers 
and turf he enjoyed a swim every morning in tae 
Italian bathing pool beneath the Cedar trees with Baby 
Lennox. Then he either went for a gallop, before 
breakfast, on one of Lord Shropshire's ponies — again 
with Baby Lennox — or had a round of golf with her 
on the workmanlike nine-hole course which had been 
laid out in the park. She played a neat game, driving 
straight, approaching deftly and putting like a book,— 
frequently beating him. 

The picture of this very pretty little person as she 
stood on the edge of the bathing pool that first morn- 
ing was, as she intended it to be, indescribably attrac- 
tive. She came from her room in a white kimono 
worked with the beautiful designs which only the 
Chinese can achieve. Her golden hair was closely 
covered by a tight-fitting bathing cap of geranium red, 
most becoming to her white skin. " Mr. Peter! " she 



YOUTH 



87 



caled out "I can't swim a bit, so you must look 
after me I.ke — like a brother." And then, as though 
to show how silly that word was, she flung off the 
wrap and stood, all slim and sweet, in blue silk tights 
cut lovv at the neck and high above her little round 
white knees. Peter thought, with a kind of boyish 
gasp, that she looked like a most alluring drawing on 
the cover of a magazine. With an irresistible simplic- 
ity and utter lack of self-consciousness she stood bal- 
anced on the edge of the pool, with the sun embracing 
her ma diving attitude, in no hurry to take her dip. 
And when Peter, suddenly seized with the notion that 
he m.ght Lc looking at her too intently, dived in she 
gave a little cry of joy and dismay and jumped in after 
him " You must hold me, you must hold me, or I 
shall go under!" she cried, and he swam with her to 
the steps. In reality she swam like a frog, but her 
beautiful assumption of inability and her pluck in 
jumping into deep water again and again to be taken 
possession of by him, filled him with admiration at her 
courage. With her tights wet and clinging and the 
water glistening on her white flesh she assured herself 
that she deserved admiration, having carefuUy calcu- 
lated her effect. Practice makes perfect, and the very 
young are always alike. 

The first morning on which she appeared in riding 
kit she again made a charming picture. She always 
rode astride, but few women would have ventured to 
wear such thin and such close-fitting white breeches 
Her coat, cut like a man's, was of white drill Her 
stock was white and her hat, with a wide flat brim was 



f < 



i i< 



\ ' I 



88 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

of white straw, but her boots were as black and shiny 
as the back of a crow. " Your hand, Mr. Peter," she 
said, raising her Httle foot for the spring,— it was 
" Mr. Peter " still, — " what a gorgeous morning for 
a gallop." And for a moment she leaned warmly 
against his shoulder. Yes, she was quite pleased with 
the effect. Peter's face was flushed as they started 
off together. 

When they golfed she had a delightful way of mak- 
ing her conversation from green to green into a sort 
of serial. With her head hatless, her short Irish 
homespun skirt displaying much blue stocking which 
exactly matched her silk sweater and her large be- 
fringed eyes, she made a fascinating opponent and 
companion. " No wonder you loved Oxford and all 
that it gave you. Quite a little tee, please. Thanks. 
To a man with any imagination — " A settle, a swing, 
a nice straight ball and silence while Peter beat his 
ball pressing for all he was worth; the picking up of 
the two bags and on side by side. " A man with any 
imagination must feel the beauty and underlying mean- 
ing of that inspiring atmosphere,— as of course you 
did. You, I can see, are highly susceptible to every- 
thing that is beautiful. You, I think, of all men, you 
, who have managed to remain,— I'm sure I don't know 
how ! — so unspoiled, will always remember and feel 
the influence of your college. / cleek, I think, don't 
you? No? A brassie? Just as you say." And so 
she would continue chatting merrily away all round, 
but alwavs keen on her game and doing her best to do 
it credit, letting out nice little bits of flattery with so 



YOUTH 



89 



naive an air and with such frankly appreciative glances 
that poor old Peter's vanity, hitherto absolutely dor- 
mant, began to bud, like new leaves in April. 

It must be remembered that Peter was a rowing 
man. Always, except when out with the guns, he was 
with Baby Lennox. They were inseparable from the 
first day of his visit. Even in the evening they hunted 
m couples, because she was sick of Bridge, she said 
and he gave out that he knew nothing at all about any 
card games and had no desire to learn. After being 
frequently pressed to cut in by Courthope, Pulsford 
Fountain and the other men who could not bear to 
see him with an unscathed cheque-book, and tempted 
again and again by their well-groomed and delightfully 
friendly wives to try a hand, Peter was left alone. 
Ihey were annoyed and irritated but they found that 
when Peter said " No " he didn't mean " Yes," like 
so many of the other young men whose weakness 
formed the greater part of these people's income; and 
so they very quickly gave him up to Baby Lennox, 
were obliged to be satisfied with his jovial piano-play- 
mg and make up for lost time with the inevitable mem- 
bers of the nouveau riches who lived near by and were 
only too glad to pay for the privilege of dining at 
Thrapstone-Wynyates in the odour of titles. 

The nights being warm and windless, Peter sat out 
on the moon-bathed terrace with Baby Lennox listen- 
mg to her girlish prattle and thinking how particularly 
charming she looked with the soft light on her golden 
hair and white arms and dainty foot. Sometimes, 
suddenly, her merry words would give place to sad 



m: 



'A 5 






90 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

ones, and Peter's simple, honest heart would be touched 
by her artistic and mythical glimpses of the unhappy 
side of her life. 

"Oh, Peter, Peter!" she said one night, uncon- 
sciously showing almost a yard of leg in a black lace 
stocking patterned with butterflies. " I wish, oh, how 
I wish that I'd been born like you, under a lucky star ! 
I've always been in a smart and rather careless set and 
I've never really had time to see visions and walk in 
the garden of my soul." She spoke in capital letters. 
" If I'd met you when I was a little young thing you 
might have become my gardener to pluck the weeds 
out of my paths, and train the flowers of my mind. 
You might have planted seeds so sweet that in my best 
and most devout hours their blooms would have filled 
my thoughts with scent. Oh dear me, the might have 
beens, — how sad they are ! But, in one thing at least 
I can take joy,— I'm all the better for knowing you, 
dear big Peter." 

But these graver interludes never lasted long. 
Mrs. Lennox was far too clever for that. She would 
break the monotony of conversation by walking with 
her ttle hand on the boy's strong arm, or by dancing 
with him to the music of a gramophone placed in the 
open window of the morning room. How close she 
clung to him then and how sweet she was to hold ! 

And then, she would say, with a wonderful throb 
in her voice. " Oh, Peter, Peter! Isn't life wonder- 
ful isn't it just the most wonderful and thrilling 

thing that is given to us ? Listen to the stars — there's 
love in their so..g! Listen to the nightingale — love. 



YOUTH 



91 



all love! Listen to the whisper of the breeze ! Can't 
you hear it tell us to love and touch and taste all the 
sweets that are given us to enjoy? Oh, Peter, Peter! 
Listen, listen,— and live!" 

In her picturesque and slangy way she announced 
to Kenyon, as soon as three days after the commence- 
ment of the house-party, that she " had got Peter well 
hooked." It was not, however, an accurate statement. 
It is true that Peter's vanity had been appealed to 
Whose wouldn't have been? This attractive young 
thmg was hostess. She was far and away prettier, 
younger, more alluring and more complex than any 
other woman in the party. And yet she had made a 
favorite of Peter at once and showed a frank pleasure 
in being with him at all possible times. He had hardly 
spoken for longer than an hour with her before she had 
said, in the middle of his description of the Henley 
week, " I must call you Mr. Peter, I must. May I? " 
She sent him little notes, too, charming, spontaneous 
little notes, to say " Good-night," and how greatly she 
had enjoyed the evening, or the swim, or the round of 
golf, beginning "Dear Big Man" and ending,— at 
first without a signature, and eventually with " Baby." 
At the beginning they were brought in by the man, or 
placed on the dressing-table against a bowl of flo-.-ers. 
Then they were thrust under his door by her af.er he 
had gone up to his room, or thrown through his open 
window from the narrow balcony that ran round the 
house. Her room was next to his. She had seen to 
that. In a hundred unexpected and appealing ways 
she had set out to prove to him that they were indeed. 



;',( 



I 



III 



92 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

as she had sajd they were, " very, very close friends." 
Now, Peter had never been a woman's man. To him 
women and their ways were new and wonderful. He 
suspected nothing. Why should he? He accepted 
Mrs. Randolph Lennox on her face value, which was 
priceless, as so many other excellent and unsophisti- 
cated young mea had done. He believed in her and 
her stories and wa.o very sorry that she had been un- 
happy. He believed that she was sincere and good 
and clean and that she liked him and was his friend. 

Kenyon, who watched all this, called Peter an easy 
mark. He was. What else could he be in the expert 
and cunning hands of such a woman ? 

As for Mrs. Lennox, her performance, — it was 
rather 'u the nature of a performance,— was all the 
more brilliant and effective because Peter appealed to 
her more than any man she had ever met. His height 
and strength and squareness, his fearless honesty, his 

unself -conscious pride and boyish love of life, she 

liked them all. She liked his clean-cut healthy face 
and thick hair and amazing laugh. But, above every- 
thing, she liked him for being unfilled soil, virgin 
earth. It was this that piqued her se'-iously and set 
alight in her a desire which grew and grew, to test her 
charms upon him, to taste him, to stir him into a first 
great passion. And this was the real reason that she 
gave him so much of her time and company. The 
gratification of this desire was the thing for which she 
was working, upon which she had set her mind Hers 
was not a record of failures. Peter stood a very poor 
chance of getting out whole. 



YOUTH 



93 



XV 

Nicholas Kenyon has promised himself that, one 
of these days, when abject poverty forces him to .ork 
he w,ll wnte a whole book about Peter and Baby Len- 

th?n'y" "" '' ''^"°"'" ^''"P'^t'"" of St An- 

Not only did Kenyon watch this, to him, rather 

dS?h°?"""L'""f."'' ^'"' ''''" '"''''''• b"t so also 
did the members of his father's house-party who came 
to regard Peter as a kind of freak. The/;irk„ew - 
because they were all psychologists,- th'at Mrs. Len- 
nox was badly smitten, as they put it, on this young 
Amencan. They all knew,- because oue of the 
women made it her business to spy,- that their tem- 
porary hostess was going through all the tricks of her 
trade to seduce this unconscious boy 

The incident provided Lord Shropshire and his 
friends with endless amusement, and bets were made 
as to how long Peter would hold out. Every morn- 
.ng somethmg new was reported to them by the lady 

that Baby had taken Peter to see her cottage after 
dmner and had had a little fainting fit in her bedroom 
uhile showmg h.m the view from the window. An- 

i"h'?K ^tf- '^''"''^ ^" ^"^^^ °" '*•« eighth hole 
and had been obliged to ask to be carried back to the 
house. There was, however, no evidence, not even of 
a circumstantial nature, to prove that Baby had suc- 
cee "d. It was presently agreed that either Peter was 
a tool or an angel. 



mm 



it- i , 



i 



^>h 



lit ■1.8, r 

in 



h_ 



94 THE SIXS OF THE CHILDREN 

There was one incident, however, which escaped un- 
noticed, — one of which even Kenyon Itnew nothing. 
It took place three nights before the party brolie up. 

After a gorgeous day of hard exercise and splendid 
fresh air, an hour at the piano after dinner and his 
usual talk to Baby under the moon, Peter went up to 
bed at eleven o'clock. He was very sleepy and meant 
to be up earlier than ever in the morning. He didn't 
say good-night to Kenyon or his satirical father. 
They were, like the others, very seriously at work 
making what money they could. There had been a 
fairly large dinner-party drawn from the surrounding 
houses, and there were eight bridge tables occupied 
in the large drawing-room. He left Mrs. Lennox in 
the hall looking more delicious than ever and went up 
to his room to sn-.oke a final pipe and look over a:, 
illustrated paper before turning in. 

His room was large and square and wainscotted, 
with dull grilled ceiling, and an oak floor so old that 
here and thete it slanted badly. His bed was a four- 
poster, deeply carved at the back with the Kenyon 
arms, the motto underneath rather sarcastically being 
" For God and Honour." In front of the fireplace, 
with its sprawling iron dogs and oak setting, there was 
a long, narrow sofa filled with cushions, and at its side 
a small writing-table on which stood two tall silver 
candlesticks. These gave the room its only light and 
added to the Rembrandtesque atmosphere of it. It 
was a room which reeked with history and episodes of 
historical romance, love and sudden death. The win- 
dow which led to the balcony were open and the warm 



YOUTH gj 

air of a wonderful night puffed in, causing the candle 
flames to move with a gentle rhythmic dignity to and 

Peter read and smoked for half an hour in his dress- 
■ng-gown, while Quixotic moths flunj themselves pas- 
sionately mto the candle-light one after another to die 
for some unexplainable ideal. From the drawing- 
room below a woman's throbbing voice drifted up 
smgmg an Indian love song, and when it ceased the 
who e night was set a quiver by a nightingale's out- 
burst of appeal. These things, and the silver wonder 
of the moon and stars, the touch of Mrs. Lennox's 
soft hand on h.s lips and the feeling and almost psychic 
undercurrent of strange emotion in that room in which 
so much had taken place, all stirred and thrilled the 
boy and sent his blood racing in his veins 

He stayed up longer than he intended, listening and 
wondering and -.shing. for the first time in his life, 
that he had read poetry, so that he could fit some im- 
mortal lines to his mood and his surroundings. It was 
this, to him. curious thought which set him laughine 
and broke some of the spell. " Gee ! " he said to him- 
self, can you see me spouting Shakespeare or mouth- 
ing Byron?" He shied his dressing-gown into the 
i' a. put both flames out with one huge blow and 
leaped into bed. 

Almost instantly he heard his name urgently called 
He sat up. Was he dreaming? Who should call at 
that time of night ? Could it be Baby ? He heard the 
call again It was nearer. A little shadow fell sud- 
denly upon the floor of his room. And then, in the 




96 



THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



window, with the shaft of moonlight all about her, 
stood Mrs. Lennox. 

Peter caught his breath and clambered out of his 
bed. "What is it?" he asked. •' VVhrt's the mat- 
ter?" 

The woman ran in with a glad cry. " Oh, Peter ! 
I thought you had gone out of your room," she whis- 
pered, " and I didn't know what to do. I saw a hide- 
ous figure walk through my wall just after I had put 
out my light, and when it came towards me with long, 
bony fingers, I rushed out and came to you. Oh, hold 
me, Peter, hold me I I'm terrified and as cold as a 
frog!" 

She slipped into his arms, all young and sweet and 
incoherent, trembling like a little bird in a thunder- 
storm. It was a most calculated piece of perfect act- 
ing. 

Peter's heart seemed to jump into his mouth. The 
flowing hair of the little head that lay on his chest was 
full of the most intoxicating scent. 

" I'll — I'll go and see what it is," he said abruptly. 

" No, no ! Don't go. I can't let you go, Peter. 
Stay with me ! " 

" But, if there's a man in your room " 

" It wasn't a man. It was the ghost that belongs to 
the family. It always comes before some dreadful 
accident. Oh, darling, stay with me! Take care of 
me ! I'm terrified ! " 

She clung to him in a very ecstasy of fright and 
the closeness and warmth of her body sent Peter's 
brain whirling. He tried to speak, to think of some- 



YOUTH 



97 



thmg to say, but all h.s thoughts were in the swirl of 
a m.ll.stream and he held her tighter and put his face 
agamst her hair, while his heart pumped and every 
preconce.ved idea, eve.^ hard-fought-for ideal went 

'; I lov'e you. I love yo„ f'eter. My Peter! " she 
.•h,spered. "Who but yoa should shelter me and 
hold me and Iceep me in your arms! Keep me with 
you always, night and day. Look into my eyes and 
see how much you mean to me, my man." 

She raised her head and stood on tiptoe. The ieal 
ous moon had laid its light upon her face and her eyes 
were shmmg and her lips were parted, and the slight 
silk covermg had fallen from her shoulder The 
whiteness of it dazzled. 

h.r ^' 7 ^'^■" '^'^ ^^"''' ''"' ^' he bent to kiss 
her mouth, momentarily drunk with the touch and 
scent of her, someone shouted his name and thumped 
on h,s door, and Mrs. Lennox tore herself away and 
ran through the wmdow like a moon-woman 

The door was flung open. Fountain came in, his 
vcce a httle th.ck. " I say, Guthrie, are you geiting 
up early m the morning? 'Cause, if so, I'll take you 
on for nme holes before breakfast. What d'yer say ? 
(joui to get healthy, d'yer see? What?" 

Peter found his voice. " All right ! " he said. 
Will you? Good man. Give me a call at six 
will you? We'll bathe in the pool before coming in.' 
So long then." And out he went again, lurching a 
httle and banging the door behind him. 

For several queer minutes Peter stood swaying, with 



r ::r 






98 



THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



i-!^ 






his breath nearly gone as though he had been rowing, 
and one big hand on his throbbing head. And as he 
stood there the posts of the bed seemed to turn into 
trees and its cover into soft grass all alive with the 
yellow heads of " bread and cheese," and among them 
sat Betty, with her eyes full of love, confidence and 
implicit faith, — Betty, for whom he had sav< d him- 
self. 

And then he started walking about the room. Up 
and down he went — ".p and down — cursing himself 
and his weakness which had nearly smashed his dream 
and put his loyalty into the dust. 

And when, — she also had cursed, — Mrs. Lennox 
stol« back, as sweet and alluring as ever, and even 
more determined, she found that Peter had re-lit his 
candles, got into his dressing-gown again and was sit- 
ting at the table writing. 

" Peter 1 Peter ! " she called. 

But he didn't hear. 

" Peter ! '* she whispered, and went nearer and 
nearer until her body rested against his shoulder. 

" Oh, I beg your pardon," he said, rising. " Is it 
all right now? Tliat's fine. It's just a touch cold. 
Don't you think you'd bi iter be in bed ? " 

Baby Lennox had seen the beginning of the letter, 
• " My own Betty." She nodded, drew back her upper 
lip in a queer smile and turned and went. She was 
clever enough to know that she had lost. 

And then Peter bent again over his letter, and in 
writing to the little girl whom he adored with all his 
heart, he was safe. 



PART TWO 

THE CITY 








guess ,t u do us good to walk " 

you. I worbe?;-„ure '?""' *° "^^^ ^'■"^ -'* 
onnf/aSnt"''"" ^i^e's cheap. Don't hurry 

Belle went over to the dressing-table SHp J,,^ , 
recently powdered h^r „r. t "^^ °"'y 

be ".etuL t"cM L„T !, '"*''" "'' l^''"!" 

S£.r ,^,r,"Tf = -"' *-' *»'^' 

comer o, GTa^.X^"" 't ?'" '"""P » *= 
There w.s a gru„ra„r.he ™, T"' '" ™""'- 



102 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



itJS 



Into the large lofty room — a cross between a bam 
and an attic — a hard north light was falling with 
cruf! accuracy. It showed up stacks of unframed 
canvasses with their faces turned to the dark wall and 
the imperfections of several massive pieces of oak, the 
worn appearance of the stained floor, the age of the 
Persian rugs and of a florid woman who sat with 
studied grace and an anxious expression of pleasant 
thought on the dais, with one indecently beringed hand 
resting with strained nonchalance on the arm of her 
chair and the other about an ineffably bored Pekingese. 

Ranken Townsend, the successful portrait painter, 
had backed away from his almost life-size canvas, 
and with his fine untidy head on one side and irrita- 
tion in his red-grey beixd was glaring at it with savage 
antagonism. 

The lady on the dais had crow's-feet round her 
made-up eyes, and a chin that could not be made any- 
thing but double however high she held it. Also — 
as the north light seemed to take a hideous delight in 
proving — her figure was irreclaimably dumpy and 
plump. The lady on the canvas, however, — such is 
Art that runs an expensive studio, good wines and 
well-preserved Coronas, — was slight and lovely and 
patrician, and should she stand up, at least six feet 
tall. No wonder Townsend grunted and glared at the 
commercial fraud in front of him, at which, in his 
good, idealistic, hungry Paris days he would have slung 
wet brushes and the honest curses of the Place Pigalle. 
He was selling his gift once more for five thousand 
dollars. His wife dressed at Bendels. 



THE CITY 



103 



Anger and irritation went out of the painter's eyes 
when he saw the sweet face that peeked in. " Hello, 
sweetheart!" he sang out. "Come in and bring a 
touch of sun. Mrs. Vandervelde, I'd like you to meet 
my little girl." 

Without turning her head or breaking a pose that 
she considered to have become, after many serious at- 
tempts, extremely effective, the much-paragraphed 
lady, whose lizard-covered mansion in Fifth Avenue 
was always one of the ob' cts touched upon by the 
megaphone men in rubber-neck wagons, murmured a 
few words. " How d'you do, child.' How well you 
look." 

Betty smothered a laugh. Mrs. Vandervelde had 
acquired the habit of looking through her ears. " I'm 
going home with Belle, father, and I shall stay to din- 
ner. But I'll be back before ten." 

"Will you? All right." He tilted up her face and 
kissed it. " I'm dining at the National Arts Club to- 
night, and I guess I shall be late." He pointed his 
brush at the canvas and made the grimace of a man 
who's obliged to swallow a big dose of evil-sme''-ng 
physic. So Betty, who understood and was s .y, 
put his hand to her lips, bowed to the indifferent lady 
and slipped away. The room was perceptibly colder 
when she left. The picture was ah-eady four thousand 
two hundred dollars toward completion, and Betty was 
just as much relieved as her father, who returned an- 
grily to work to paint in the diamonds. He was sick 
of that smile. 
While waiting for the elevator, Belle gave a rather 






',: « 



I i'i 






104 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

self-conscious laugh and lifted her tight skirt quickly. 
" Seen the latest, Betty?" She showed a tiny square 
watch edged with diamonds worn as a garter. " Cun- 
ning, isn't it? " 

" Why, I should just think it was ! Where did you 
buy it? " 

" Buy it? My dear, can you see me paying 
three hundred dollars for something that doesn't 
show? Harry Spearman gave it to me last night, 
and put it on in his car on the way to the Pierrot 
Club." 

"Put it on?" 

Belle threw back her beautiful head and burst out 
laughing. " You said that just like the Quaker girl 
in the play at the Hudson. Why shouldn't he put it 
on? It amused him and didn't hurt me. He's a 
sculptor, and like the bus-conductor, ' legs is no treat 
to him,' anyway." 

They entered the elevator, dropped nine floors to 
the wide foyer of the palatial apartment house, and 
went out into the street. It was a typical New York 
October afternoon — the sky blue and clear, the sun 
warm and the air alive with that pinch of ozone of 
which no other city in the world can boast. The girls 
instinctively made their way towards Fifth AvenMe, 
warily dodging the amazing traffic, the struggling, 
wagons and plunging horses going in and out of build- 
ings in course of ear-splitting construction, and coal- 
chutes, in the middle of the sidewalks. 

" But you were not at the opening of the Pierrot 
Club last night," said Betty. " I heard you tell Mrs. 



THE CITY 



105 



Guthrie that you were dining with the Delanos and 
going to their theatre party." 

"I know. But Harry Spearman sent round a note 
in the afternoon asi^ing me to have dinner with him 
at Delmonico': and go en to the Club to dance. I had 
such a severe headache that I rang up Mrs. Delano 
and reluctantly begged to be excused. To quote 
Nicholas, theatre parties with elderly people bore me 
stiff. As it was, I had a perfectly corking time till 
one o'clock and danced every dance." 
" Did you tell Mrs. Guthrie ? " 
"For Hei.kcn's sake, Betty, what do you take me 
for ? Mother isn't my school-teacher and I don't have 
to ask her for permission to live. I have my latch- 
key and dear little mother is perfectly happy. As she 
never knows what I do she never has to worry about 
me; and, as she always says, I can only be young once." 
A curious little smile played round her very red lips. 
"It's true that Harry Spearman is rather unmanage- 
able when he gets one alone in a car after several hours 
of champagne and ragtime, but — oh, well, I guess I 
can take care of myself. Do you know, I don't think 
the Pierrot Club's going to be as good this winter. 
It s a year old, you see. Everybody's going to the new 
room at the Plaza — that is, everybody back from the 
country. It's rather a pity, I think. I like the Club, 
but the motto of New York is ' Follow the Crowd ' 
and so the Plaza's for me." 

Betty's admiration for her school-fellow and closest 
friend was invincible and her loyalty very true. It 
made her therefore a little uneasy to notice about her 



1C 



:! J 



io6 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 






a. growing artificiality which was neither attractive nor 
characteristic. She knew better than anyone that 
Belle was a remarkable girl. She had a kind heart. 
She possessed that rarest of gifts, a sense of gratitude, 
and if her talent for writing had been properly de- 
veloped she might eventually have made her mark. 
She had a quick perception — sympathy and imagina- 
tion not often found in so young a girl — an uncanny 
ear for the right word — and if she chose to exercise 
it, quite an unusual power of concentration. It seemed 
to Betty to be such a pity that, just at the moment when 
Belle left school with her mind filled with ideals and 
the ambition to make something of herself and do 
things, the Doctor found himself a rich man. The in- 
centive to work which the constant need for economy 
had awakened in her wen. out like a snuffed candle. 
From having before been in the habit of saying, with 
eager enthusiasm, " I'm going to do such and such a 
thing, whatever the odds," she immediately began to 
say: " Oh, my dear, what's the use ? " Everything 
for which she had intended to work became now hers 
for the asking. Her father gave her a free hand in 
the matter of entertaining her young friends. She 
could order what books she wished to read from Bren- 
tano's, and she had a gjnerous allowance on which to 
dress. Like a chameleon she quickly changed the 
rather dull colors of her fortnef surroundings for 
those bright ones which the sudden accession to wealth 
made it easy to acquire. Her outlook was no longer 
that of the daughter of an overworked general prac- 
titioner whose income had to be carefully managed in 



THE CITY ,^ 

ployed in the development of her talent; and it 'vas 

rnucn to say for himse f, qu cklv borpH h»r u 

that ^e should throw her J^ ^ ^rS 

tne tact that they did not intend to give anything for 
nothing, exercised her ingenuity and native w to keep 

tered into a series of artificial flirtations with men 

he r^ resTh; "T Tl"^""^ '^'^ ''^ into'episodes. 
tie M^r 1 ''■'''''' ^'""•'^ ^^'^ thrown dear lit 
^e Mrs^ Guthne into a panic, and her coolness pr 

"■j,nit>. liven upon her return from 



.♦■• I 



io8 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



\n' 



England with her heart full of Nicholas Kenyon, and 
with a desire to tee him again that kept her awake 
at night, she frittered away her superfluous energy 
with this Harry Spearman, whom no woman with any 
respect for her daughter would willingly allow within 
a mile of her, even if properly chaperoned. 

Betty, being one of those girls wiio had never been 
suspected of any talent, but who nevertheless had it 
in her to perform a far more womanly and beautiful 
thing than to write books or plays — to be in fact a 
good wife to the man she loved and a good mother to 
his children — looked at Belle's way of living with 
growing anxiety. She was not a prude or a prig. 
She had not been allowed out in the world with eyes 
all curious to see the truth of things through a veil of 
false modesty. Her father, a wise and humane man, 
had seen to that. She delighted in enjoyment, went 
to the theatre whenever she had the opportunity and 
danced herself out of shoes. But, not being ambitious 
to shine, she was content to apply her energy to the 
ordinary work that came to her to do, — the practical, 
everyday, undramatic, domestic things that cropped 
up hourly in the strange house where the father was 
an artist and the mother suffered from individualism 
and was a leader of new movements. Leaving school 
to find a home in a constant state of chaos, her father 
rarely out of his studio, her mother always in the 
throes of committee meetings and speech-making, — 
she knuckled down to set it in order, to clear out 
an extravagant cook with an appetite for hysterics, 
and a sloppy Irish waitress whose hairpins fell every- 



THE CITY 



109 



where and whose loose hand dropped things of value 
almost before it touched them. This done she found 
others and appointed herself housekeeper, and the du- 
ties of this position kept her both busy and happy - 
the one bemg hyphenated to the other. But even if 
her father had been, like Dr. Guthrie, a rich man in- 
stead of one who lived up to every penny that he 
earned and generally several thousand dollars beyond 
she had nothing in her character that, however little 
she was occupied, would have allowed her to look at 
life from the modern standpoint of Belle and her other 
friends. She was — and rejoiced in the fact — old- 
fashioned. Most of her ideas were what is now scofl- 
mgly called "early Victorian," because they were not 
loose and careless, and the many things that Belle and 
others found " fearfully amusing" were, to her, im- 
possible. She didn't, for instance, leave her petticoat 
in the cloak-room when she went to dances, so that 
her partners might find her better fun. She didn't 
go to tea alone with mere acquaintances in bachelor 
apartments, or for taxi rides with her partner between 
dances. She never made herself cheap, and went out 
of her way to avoid men whose eyes ran calculatingly 
over her figure. These things and many others 
merely appealed to her as the perquisite of those girls 
who did not place a very high value upon self-respect 
The Guthries lived at 55 East Fifty-second Street. 
It was the house which the man whom Dr Guthrie 
called his benefactor had built for himself and left to 
the doctor whom he was proud to endow The 
architect who had been employed had been given a 



no THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



^ 



free hand. He had not been reouired to mix his styles 
or perform extraordinary architec.ural gymnastics of 
any kind. The result of his efforts was good. It 
was a house such as one sees in one of the numerous 
old London squares within sound of the mellow clock 
of St. James's Palace. Addison might have lived in 
it, or Walpole or Tepys. Its face was scrupulously 
plain and its doorway was modelled on those of the 
Adams period. Standing between two very florid 
examples of modern architecture it made one think 
of the portrait of a charming early Victorian gentle- 
woman between the photographs of two present-day 
chorus ladies in hoopskirts and a cloud of chiffon. 
The rooms were large and lofty and were all furnished 
with great simplicity and taste. There was nothing 
in them except old furniture which had been collected 
in England by its late owner, piece by piece, and its 
oak chests, armoires and secretaries, china closets, 
comer pieces and Chippendale chairs were very good 
to look at and live with. So also were the pictures, 

— Cattermoles, Bartalozzi engravings, colored prints 
and a half-dozen priceless oil paintings by old masters, 

— which made the small, cunning, unscrupulous, eager 
mouths of the numerous art collectors of New York 
water with desire. The library, too, out of which led 
the Doctor's laboratory, was almost unique, and con- 
tained first editions and specimens of rare and beau- 
tiful book-binding which filled the Doctor's heart with 
constant pleasure and delight. It was nearly a year 
before the man who had struggled so hard to lift 
himself out of his father's small farm could believe 



THE CITY ,„ 

ttl'/h T'' ;!'"'•? '" •"' ^'^ ^J'*" he passed 
through these beautiful rooms, and often he was 

dr'amtg" ""'' '"""" '° "'•^^ ^"^'^ "^''^ "e was n" 
would have g,ven ,ts late owner many shudders to 

room the wmdows of which looked out upon that 
row of small red. bandbox-like houses opposite which 
had managed to remain standing in spite of the 
rapacous hands of reconstruction companies which 

Z7r'- '°. PP^ "' **''" destroying old landmarks 
and tearmg down old buildings. Into this room Mrs. 
Q^thne had placed all the furniture of her first sitting- 
room,- cheap late Victorian stuff of which she had 

tSr. i f/"";:^ ^'* *•"= y°""& <^°<^tor. From, 
these thmgs Mrs. Guthrie could not be parted Thev 
were all redolent with good and tender memories and 

tTf',^f ^ T^'u ^'' "'°'' ^"'"^''•'^ «"^ ""^^ beau- 
gether '' "''^ ""^ P'""' P"' *°- 

Curiously enough -or perhaps not curiously at all 
-this was Peter's favorite room, too, and he never 
entered ,t without renewing is vows to climb to the 
top of his own tree, as his father had done. Belle 
Graham and Ethel all laughed at the little mother for 
chnging to this "rubbish," as they called it, which 
was so out of keeping with the rest of the house, 
iiut Peter sympathized with her and never failed while 
sittmg there in the evening, in close and intimate con- 



I! 



' «^i.i'^' 



i k 




!,!• 



112 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

versation with the dear little woman who meant so 
much to him, to get from it a new desire to emulate 
his father and make his own way in the same brave 
spirit. 

When Belle and Betty arrived at East Fifty-second 
Street — a little tired after their walk — they found 
Graham in the hall. "Oh, hello!" said he. "Been 
shopping.' " 

" No," answered Belle, " nothing tempted us. 
We've walked all the way home from Gramercy Park, 
— some walk! Everything I've got on is sticking 
to me. Aren't you home early, Graham ? " 

Graham nodded. "Nothing doing," he said. 
" Besides, I'm dining early." He turned to Belle with 
a rather curious smile. " I thought you were to be 
with the Delanos last night." 

Belle tilted her chin. " I was. I dined there, went 
to the Winter Garden and then danced at Bus- 
tanoby's." 

"I caught sight of you in Spearman's car some- 
where about one o'clock in the morning. Did he drive 
you home? " 

" I guess he did, dear boy," said Belle, blandly, " and 
by the way, we saw you, going in to supper somewhere 
with a girl with a Vogue face and an open-air back I " 
Graham laughed. "That's diflferent," he said. 
" Spearman isn't the sort of man I care to see my sis- 
ter going about with alone. I advise you to be a little 
more fastidious." 

" Thank you, Graham darling," said Belle, quite un- 
moved, " but I'm old enough to choose my own friends 



THE CITY „_j 

without your butting in. Just for fun. would you tell 
'■ TH .-'"ll-^""" "'""* "'^ --d fastidious? •• 

braham a good sport >•' "' 

ytgo7 h:sT.T "r^ ''^PPy smi.e,rd°Ethe 

d .on of a girl of fifteen who had not'gone bLuZ 
school on account of anemia 

tace Belle knew she had heard from Peter " Anv 
news?" she asked eagerly. "^ 

rnn'w"' '^^'""5'- '''^ ^^^V best of news. A Mar- 
con, from my boy," said Mrs. Guthrie. 
What does he say?" 
"Oh, what does he say?" asked Betty But the 
quest,on was asked mentally, because ' ttlf m's 

Puttrngon her glasses with great deliberation Mrs 
Guthne p.cked up a book, and with a smile of pride 
and exatement hunted through its pages and ev n 



114 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



^^'i 



i '• 



tually produced the cable form, which she had used 
as a marker. 

"Do hurry, mother, dear' Tied Belle. News 
from Peter meant news from Nicholas. 

" Now please don't fluster me, Belle. Of course 
I would unfold it the wrong side up, wouldn't I? 
Well, this is what he says: ' Expect to dock day after 
to-morrow, dearest Mum. All my love.' " 

" Is that all he says ? Is there nothing about his — 
his friend? " 

Ethel gave a quiet chuckle, of which Belle coldly 
took no notice. 

" There are a few more words," replied Mrs. 
Guthrie, " and I expect they were very exp^. - 
sive." 

" Oh, mother, darling; do go on I " 

" Let me see, now. Oh, yes. ' And to Betty.' " 

"Oh, thank you," said Betty. "Oh, Peter, my 
Peter! " she cried in her heart. 

This time Ethel laughed. But no one noticed it. 
It was rather disappointing. 

" At last I shall see Nicholas again," thought Belle, 
—"at last!" 

And the little mother folded up the cable very care- 
fully and slipped it back into the book. Peter had 
sent it to her, — to her. 

And then Belle turned her attention to her little 
sister, who not only looked most interesting, but knew 
that she did. " I think you condescended to be 
amused. Grandmamma," she said, in the most good- 
natured spirit of chaff. Like everybody else in the 



nl'li 



THE CITY 



115 



family she was really rather proud of ^V. ,.;>■ fin- 
ished production of an ultra-modern .. J l-3sl-,ior.abl-. 
school. 

" I seem to have missed a lot of fun by ia,t -o- 
mg to Europe," replied Ethel. " It would have been 
very entertaining to watch you and Betty fall in 

" I guess so," said 1 lie. " The only thing is that 
you would have been very much odd man out They 
draw the line at little school-girls at Oxford " 

'Now don't begin to quarrel, girls." said Mrs. 
Guthne. Im very sorry Ethel wasn't with us. 
The tnp would have widened her view and given her 
much to think about. But never mind. She shall go 
with us next time." 

Ethel stifled a yawn. " Thank you, mamma, dear. 
But when I go to England I may elect to stay there. 

thmk Its very probable that I shall marry an Eng- 
lishman and settle down to country life, doing London 
m the season." 

Belle's laugh rang out. "That's the sort of thing 
we have to put up with, Betty," she said. "You're 
going to marry a Duke, aren't you, Baby, and be a 
Udy ,n Waiting at Court, with a full-page photo- 
graph every week in the Tatler? When Peter comes 
home hell find you a constant source of joy My 
descriptions of the way in which you've come on while 
he s been away always made him laugh." 

Ethel rose languidly from the sofa, at the side of 
Which a little nourishment had been served. Mrs 
buthne, who had been busily at work knitting a scarf 



^^ii 



' ( 



ii6 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

for Graham — a thing that he would certainly never 
wear — went quickly to give her a hand. " Are you 
going to your room now, darling ? " she asked. 

Ethel caught Belle's rather sceptical eye and, with 
exquisite coolness, entirely ignored its suggestion that 
she was shamming. " Yes, mamma, dear. I shall 
go to bed almost at once. There's nothing like sleep 
for anaemia. Of course I shall have to read for a 
little while, because insomnia goes with my complaint, 
but I shall fall off as soon as I can. Please don't 
come in to-night, in case you disturb me. I'll tell 
Ellen to put my hot milk in a thermos." 

Belle burst into another laugh. "You beat the 
band," she said. "Any one would think that your 
school was for the daughters of royalty. I laiow 
exactly what Nicholas Kenyon will call you." 

Ethel turned towards her sister with raised eye- 
brows. With her rather retrousse nose, fine, wide- 
apart eyes and soft round chin she looked very pretty 
and amazingly self-composed. Her poise was that of 
a woman who had been a leader of society for years. 
" Yes ? And what will that be ? " 
" The queen of the Flappers," said Belle. 
Ethel picked up her book, carefully placing the 
marker. "Oxford slang leaves me cold," she said, 
loftily. 

" I certainly hope that he'll call her nothing of the 
sort," said Mrs. Guthrie. " ' Flapper.' What a ter- 
rible word ! What does it mean ? " 

" It means girls under seventeen who have discov- 
ered all the secrets of life, the value of a pair of pretty 



THE CITY j^^ 

thin';: z\iT\'r,'v'' ^^^^^^-^^ ^'- - ^o 

land-' ''^'''^''"twordlheardinEng- 

no other words '''"• ^^' ^°"'d And 

aro^nVlL^sSTrfrf f ^™' "'^' ^^^^* ^«-*-". 
she was extremelv ° 7 'T'''' '''''''' ">' ^hom 
"Never ^Z^'^'j, '% ^J-ed. 
-an a„v,hi„g. It's oSy her f"" ^^"^''-"'t 

■•-prove fn^t" ' ""'^ ""^^ ^^'' »"' ^''e'll 

a god '"'^"^esses who bow to wealth as before 

I don't think 1 will " said Ptu^i « 4-, 
his laboratory may X'e Z^ i ^^' ^'S'^* "^ 



ii8 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



1'^ 



P 

m 






Your complexion is beginning to show the effects of 
late hours already." 

" Oh, you funny little thing," said Belle. " You 
give me a pain. Trot off to bed ; and instead of read- 
ing Wells, Ibsen and George Bernard Shaw, try a 
course of Louisa Alcott and a dose of Swiss Family 
Robins in. That'll do you much more good and make 
you a little more human." 

But even this plain sisterly speaking had no ap- 
parent effect. Ethel gave Betty, who had been watch- 
ing and listening to the little bout with the surprise 
of an only child, a small peck on the cheek. " Good 
night, dear Betty," she said. " I'm glad that you're 
going to be my sister-in-law. Unless Peter has 
changed very much since he's been away he'll make a 
good husband." 

And then, with quiet grace, she left the room. No 
one, not even Belle, whose high spirits and love of 
life had led her into many perfectly harmless adven- 
turer when she was the same age, suspected that Ethel 
was up to anything. They were wrong. The self- 
constituted invalid had invented anaemia for two very 
good reasons. First, because she was not going to 
be deprived of welcoming her big brother when he 
returned home for good, school or no school, and 
second because she had struck up a surreptitious ac- 
quaintance with the good-looking boy next door. At 
present it had gone no further than the daily exchange 
of letters and telephone calls. The adventure was in 
the course, however, of speedy development. The 
boy was going to pay her a visit that evening, by way 



THE CITY „9 

itXr'' ''° """'*'■ '^*^' '^'•^"'^ "^"' ^° ^ 

With an unwonted burst of extravagance Betty took 
a tax. home as soon after dinner as she could get away. 

she asked the moon and all the stars in the clear sky 
as her rackety cab bowled swiftly downtown 

She let herself in and the first thing that caught her 
eyes was the welcome sight of a thick envelope ad- 
dressed m Peter's big round, honest, unaffected hand. 

t^JZ\XX'"''' '"' ^''^'''' ''-'"' 

Within five minutes she was sitting on her bed, in 
he sec usion of her own room, and what Peter had 
to say for himself was this : 

" Carlton Hotel, London, 
" My dearest Betty : " ^^P'^mber 28, 1913. 

fZ ^ff """^ ^ T' ™'^''*y Slad to find a letter from you 
h s afternoon when I got in, so glad that I dashed out of 
his Hotel, went across the street to the White Star offices 
and asked them to exchange r..y bookings to a boat S'ng 
a week earher, because I just can't stand being awaf 
from you any longer. I don't know what Nick will say 
and don't much care. He's at Newmarket stay W with a 

say what I ve done, and as he's versr keen to see New York 
nd ,s on^ killing time, I don't think he'U kick up a row 
would have sailed on the Olympic, which left'the Ty 
after I said good-bye to Thrapstone-Wytiyates if I hadn't 
promised father to go up to Scotland'Tnd see he p,te 
where h,s ancestors lived. I couldn't back out of that 



*■ I: 

. r 

' 'I! 



120 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



ijj- 



V, 



If 



w 



Pi 



't 



especially as goodness only knows when I shall come to 
Europe again, — perhaps not until I bring you over on a 
honeymoon, my baby, and we go back to Oxford together 
to see how the fairy ring is getting on. We must do that 
some day. You don't know how I love that little open 
space where the trees haven't grown so that the moon 
may spill itself in a big patch for all our friends to dance 
in on fine nights. I've read your letter a dozen times and 
know it by heart, li':e all the others you've written to me. 
You write the most wonderful letters, darling. I wish 
I knew how to send you something worth reading, though 
I'm quite sure you don't mind my clumsy way of putting 
things down, because you know how much I love you 
and because everything I say comes straight out of my 
heart. 

" My last letter was written in Scotland, Cupar Fife. 
I shall always remember that quiet little place where the 
red-headed Guthries, — they must have been red-headed 
from eating so much porridge, — tilled the earth and 
brought up sheep in the way they should go. The vil- 
lage seems as much cut off from the rest of the world 
as though it were surrounded by sea, and every small 
thing that happens excites it. The man who kept the Inn 
that I stayed in (feeling frightfully lonely, though really 
very much interested) had words with his good woman 
one night and the rights and wrongs of the perfectly 
private matter have since divided all the inhabitants. 
Best friends don't speak and the minister is going to 
preach about the affair next Sunday. I saw the house 
the old Guthries lived in and was taken all over it by a 
kind old soul to whom father gave more money than she 
thought existed when he was there. Gee! but my great- 
grandfather must have had precious little ambition to live 
his whole life in a little hole like that. In most of the 



THE CITY J2I 

u°D°^'l!t' l^^T^^r '■"'" ''^°^^= ='"'^ "^^ded climbing 
with h ''"".'^; /'^"- McAlister, who lives there now 
w.th her marned daughter and her seven children, sleeps 
m one of these fug-holes in the kitchen. Think of h 
And she said that the floor swarms with beetles - she can 
hear hem crackling about in the night. All the same, by 
Jove! this pnm.tive living makes men. I can see from 
whom father got his grit and determination 

I was glad to find myself in London. I've only been 
here for a night or two at various times and it's a wilder- 
tT.' ITTk-^ ^T ""^'"^ ^^''y '™^ ^ g° °"' ^"d have 

Bobbfes T^" °" ,'° r\ '='*• ^°PP'"S ^•'^P^' these 
Bobbie . They mostly look like gentlemen and are aw- 
fully glad to get a laugh. To hear them talk about the 
Aymarket^ Piccadilly Surcuss, Warfloo Plaice and West! 
minister Habbey first of all puzzles one and then fills 
one with joy. As to the Abbey,- oh. Gee ! but isn't it 
away beyond words! I spent a whole day wander „g 
about among the graves of its mighty dead, and finally 
when I got to the end of the cloister and came upon that 
small, square, open space where the grass grows so green 
and sparrows play about, I was glad there was nobody to 

Canons who was taking in the milk for afternoon tea 

liZVn *' T ^"""' "'"^^^ ^"^^g 'he shrines 
of men who have done things and moved things on in 
which I should like to stand (not looking a bit like my- 
self in stone) when I have done my job, and if 1 were 
an Englishman I should work for it. As it is. I shall 
work for you and all you mean to me. my baby, and 
that s even a higher privilege. 

thZh^r ? " **^*''' '"'' "ight,_Wyndham's. I 
ttought the pay was corking, but the leading actor -an 
ugly good-Iooking fellow- wasn't trying a yard, and let 



p 

1,1 

i 






122 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

it away down every time he was on. Also he spent his 
time making jokes under his breath to the other people to 
dry them up. No wonder the theatres are in a bad way 
in London. There's no snap and gfinger about the shows 
except the ones of the variety theatres, where they really 
do take off their coats for business. It's fine to hear rag- 
times at these places, although they're as stale on our side 
as if they had been played away back before the great 
wind. By the way, I'm a bit anxious about Graham. 
His letters have a queer undercurrent in them. 

" I'm going to the National Gallery, the British Mu- 
seum and South Kensington to-morrow, and in the even- 
ing I'm dining at the Trocadero with eight men who 
were up at St. John's with me. They're all working in 
London and hate it, aft.-' Oxford. It seems odd to me 
not to be there myself and I miss it mighty badly some- 
times. All the same it's great to feel that one's a man at 
last, with real work to do and that apartment waiting for 
us to win. This is the last mail that I can catch before 
sailing and so I just have to tell you once again, in case 
you forget it, that I adore you and that if I don't see you 
on the landing in little old New York among the crowd 
I shall sink away like an India-rubber balloon with a pin 
in it. So long, my dearest girl. All, all my love, now 
and forever. ^ " Peter." 

" P. S. Do you think your father can be brought to 
like me somehow or other? 

" Kiss this exact spot." 



II 



A GOOD sport! Oil, yes, Graham answered admir- 
ably to that description, — according to its present-day. 



THE CITY 



123 



use. Graham like Belle, was suffering from the fact 
that everything was too easy. His father's so-called 
^ene actor had taken all the sting of life for that boy 
Fundamentally he had inherited a considerable amount 
of his father's grit. He needed the impetus of strug- 
gle to use up that sense of adventure ^vhlch was deep- 
rooted in his nature. He was a throw-back. He had 
all the stuff in him that was in his ancestors,- those 
early pioneers who were momentarily up against the 
grim facts of life. He was not cut out for civiliza- 
tion. He needed action, the physical strain and stress 
of hunting for his food among primeval surroundings 
and the constant exercise of his strength in dangerous 
positions. He would have made a fine sailor, a reck- 
less soldier or an excellent flying man. He was as 
much out of his element in Wall Street as a sporting 
dog which is doomed to pass away its life sitting be- 
s'de a chauffeur in an elaborate motor-car. The 
daring recklessness which would have been an asset 
to him as a hunter of big game or a man >vho attached 
himself to dangerous expeditions, found vent, in the 
heart of civilization, in gambling and running wild. 
U was a pity to see such a lad so utterly misplaced and 
going to the devil with an alacrity that alarmed even 
some of his very loose friends. If his father had con- 
tinued to be a hard-working doctor whose income was 
barely large enough to cover his yearly expenses, 
braham could have used up his superabundant ener- 
gies in climbing, rung by rung, any ladder at the 
bottom of which he had been placed. As it was, he 
found himself, through his father's sudden accession 



m 



« 



T24 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

to wealth, beginning where most men leave off, with 
nothing to fight for — nothing to put his teeth into 
— nothing for which to take off his coat. It was 
all ' rong. He made money and lost it with equal 
east — although he lost more than he won. He was 
surrounded with luxuries when he should have been 
faced daily with the splendid difficulties which go lo 
form character and mental strength. Somehow or 
other his innate desire for adventure had to be used 
up. With no one to exercise any discipline over him, 
with no steady hand to guide him and control, he flung 
himself headlong into the vortex of the night life of 
the great city and was an easy prey for its rastaquores. 
At the age of twenty- four he thready knew what it 
was to be haunted by money-lenuers. Already he was 
up to the innumerable dodges of the men who borrow 
from Peter to pay Paul. He was a well-known figure 
in gambling clubs and the houses in the red-light dis- 
trict, and he numbered among his friends men and 
women who made a specialty of dealing with boys of 
his type and who laid their nets with consummate 
knowledge of humanity and with the most dastardly 
callousness. He was indeed, in the usual inaccurate 
conception of the word, a good " sport," and stood 
every chance of paying for the privilege with hi.s 
health, his self-respect and the whole of his future 
life. 

To have seen the nervous way in which he dressed 
for dinner the next evening, throwing tie after tie 
away with irritable cursing, would have convinced the 
most casual observer of the fact that he stood in need 



THE CITY 



125 



of a .trong hand. His very appearance,- the dark 
lines round h.s eyes, the unsteadiness of his hand- 
denrned plainly enough the sort of life that he vvas 
leading but the short-sighted eyes of the Doctor in 
wnose house he lived missed all this, and there vvas 
no one except the little mother to cry " halt " to this 
poor lad and. in her experience, of what avail was 

He drove -after having dined with three other 
Wal Mreet men at Sherry's -to an apartment house 
on West Fortieth Street. little imagining that fate had 
determmed to put him to the test. Kenyon had rec- 
ommended him to try it. He had heard of it from 
Lapt-m Fountain's brother, who had called it " very 
hot stuff" in one of h^s letters,- the headquarters 
of a so-called "Bohemian" set in which Art and 
gambhng were combined. It was run by a woman 
whose name was Russian, whose instincts were cos- 
mopolitan, and who had been shifted out of most of 
the great European cities by the police. " The Pa- 
powsky,'' as she was called, spoke several languages 
equally fluently. She was something of a judge of 
art. She had an uncanny way of being able to pre- 
dict success or failure to new plays. She knew 
musicians when she saw them and only had to smell a 
book to know whether it had excellence or not Her 
short thm body and yellow skin, her black hair cut 
in a fringe over her eyes and short all round like that 
ot a Shakesperian page, her long, dark, Oriental eyes 
and her long artistic hands were in themselves far 
from attractive. It was her wit and sa-casm how- 




^ Hi^.j • 



126 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



ever and the brilliant way in which she summed up 
people and things which made her the leader of those 
odd people — to be found in every great city — who 
delight in being unconventional and find excitement in 
a game of chance. 

The apartment in which she held her " receptions " 
and entertainments was unique. The principal room 
was a large and lofty studio, arranged like a grotto 
with rocks and curious lights and secluded places 
where there were divans. Here there was a dais, at 
the back of which there was an organ, and a grand 
piano stood upon it in a French frame all over cupids, 
and it was here that the most extraordinary exhibi- 
tions of dancing were given by the Papowsky hand- 
maidens and others. 

The other people who lived in this apartment house 
had already begun to talW about it in whispers, and 
its reputation had gone out into the city. One or two 
feeble complaints had been made to the police, but 
without any avail. At the moment when Graham had 
first entered it, it was in its second year and was flour- 
ishing like the proverbial Bay Tree. The magnets 
which drew him to this house of Arabian Nights were 
the roulette table in a secluded room at the end of the 
passage, and one of the hand-maidens of the Papow- 
sky, whose large, gazelle-like eyes and soft caressing 
hands drew him from other haunts, and followed him 
into his dreams. 



THE CITY 



127 



HI 

Graham's hat and coat were taken by a Japanese 
servant, whose little eyes twinkled a welcome 

The long, brilliantly lighted passage which led to 
the st«d,o was hung with nudes, some of them painted 
■n oils wnh a sure touch, some highly finished in black- 
and-wh,te, and the rest dashed oflf in chalks,- rough 
.mpressjonist things which might have been drawn by 
art students under the influence of drink. Between 
them m narrow black frames there was a collection of 
diabolically clever caricatures of well-known singers 
actors, authors, painters and politicians, each one 
bringing out the weaknesses of the victims with 
peculiar impishness and insight. The floor of the pas- 
sage was covered with a thick black pile carpet, which 
smothered all noise. 

As Graham entered the studio several strange minor 
chords were struck on th» niano and a woman's deep 
comralto voice fillcu ..e larp- studio like winter wind 
moaning through an oiu chimney. 

The Papowsky, who was giving an evening for 
young artists, and was half-covered in a more than 
usually grotesque garment, slid out of the shadow and 
gave Graham her left hand, murmuring a welcome, 
txuding a curious pungent aroma, she placed a long 
finger on her red, thin lips and slipped away again 
tor some minutes Graham remained where she left 
him, trying to accustom his eyes to the dim -though 
far from religious - light. He made out men ia 



t 1: 



128 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 






dress clothes sitting here and there and the glint of 
nymph-like forms passing from place to place, spring- 
ily. The scent of cigarette smoke mixed with tliat of 
some queer intoxicating perfume. The sound of 
water plashing from a fountain came to his ears. 

On his way to find a seat, Graham's arm was sud- 
denly seized, he was pulled into a corner and found 
himself, gladly enough, alone with the girl who called 
herself Ita Strabosck. There was one blue light in 
this alcove and by it he could see that the girl was 
dressed like an Apache in black suit with trousers 
which belled out over her little ankles and fitted her 
tightly everywhere else. She retained her close grip 
and began to whisper eagerly to him. Her foreign ac- 
cent was more marked than usual, owing to the emo- 
tion under which she obviously labored. Her heart 
hammered against his arm. 

" You have coine to zee me ? " 

Graham whispered back. " Don't I always come 
to see you ? " 

" You like me? " 

Graham bent forward and kissed her mouth. 

" You love me? " 

The boy laughed. 

" S-s-s-h! Eef you 
truly love me, I vill 
eet." 

" I've been waiting,' 
touch of passion. 

" Zen take me avay from this 'ell. I 'ave a soul. 
Eet ees killing me. I 'ave a longing for God's air. 



love me, eef you really and 
to-night ask you to prove 

said Graham, with a sudden 



THE CITY 



Take me back 



129 



woman <^1,» 1 "* ^''^ Papowsky ees a vile 

woman She lure me .re and I am a prisoner You 
do not know ti,e 'orrors of zis place. I am youn, 

I am almost a child I was good and I can b ; od 
agam At once, when you come 'ere, I saw in vou 
one who m,ght rescue me from .is. I ove ^ You 
-y you love me. I beseech you to take me awav " 

per^dt'hir' 'T?' *'" ^"°''°"^' ^^PP-' -■^-- 
fo, nd V f"' ^ "'' >'°""& ^™^ t'«t ^vere flun^ 

St him %'"' '' '"^ ""'^ "^"''y ^-^^t -- a" -" 
desire for™; "" ^^"^^ "^ -^^'^-'^y -^> his innate 

girl.' Where could he put her? 

Uy to help, but a hand was quickly placed over his 

" Eef you believe in God, take me aw-.y. i do not 
care what you do with me. I do not care eef you 

love Zr ^r/°""^ ""'^ ^°" ^^^ ^ ■"-". and I 
oveyou. I w.H be your servant -your slave. I 

II k.ss your feet. I will give you myself. I wil 

■ii vou.~ sT" r'"^ r'"''- ^'"' y°" do zis? 

c.:lXhan^:toteXr°""°"^-^"--^ 

In the faint blue light Graham could see the large 

e>es of the g.rl looking up at him through tears as 

t'-"gh to a saviour. Her whole attitude LHne o 



J SI. 

I- 



130 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

great appeal. Her young, slim body trembled and the 
throbbing of her voice with its curious foreign accent 
moved hira to an overwhelming pity. Here then was 
something that he could do — was a way in which he 
could exercise his bottled up sense of adventure which 
had hitherto only been kept in some sort of control 
by gambling and running risks. 

" Do you mean that you're forced to remain here, 
— that you can't get out if you want to? " 

" Yes, yes, yes ! I tell you I was caught like a 
wild bird and zis ees my cage. Ze door ees guarded." 

A great excitement seized the boy. He lifted Ita 
up and put his mouth to her ear. " You've come to 
the right man. I'll get you out of this. I always 
loathed to see you here, — but how's it to be done? 
She has eyes in the back of her head, and those 
damned Japanese servants are everywhere." 

" Eeet ees for you to sink," said the girl. " You 
are a man." 

"I see," said Graham. "Right. Leave it to 
me. 

He liked being made responsible. He liked the 
utter trust which this girl placed in him. He liked 
the feeling of danger. The whole episode and its 
uncanny romance caught hold of him. It was not 
every day that in the middle of civilization the chance 
came to do something which smacked of medisevalism 
— which had in it something of the high adventure 
of Ivanhoe. 

He said : " Get away quick and put your clothes 
on. Don't pack anything — just dress. There won't 



THE CITY 



131 



be any one in the roulette room until after twelve 
Go in there and hide behind the curtains and wait for 
me. Quick, now ! " 

Once more the girl flung her arms about him and 
put her lips to his mouth. 

For several minutes Graham remained alone in the 
alcove, with his blood running swiftly through his 
vems — his brain hard at work. The woman on the 
dais was still singing. In the vague, uncertain light 
he could see the Papowsky curled up on a divan near 
by, smoking a cigarette. Other people had come in 
and made groups among the foolish rockery. Then 
he got up quietly, went out into the passage and looked 
about. He had never before explored the place, he 
only knew the studio and the roulette room. It 
dawned upon him that this apartment was just be- 
neath the roof of the building. Somewhere or other 
there was likely to be an outlet to the fire-escape. 
That was the idea. He had it. The girl had said 
that it would be impossible to take her away by the 
mam door. Those Japanese servants were evidently 
watch-dogs. Even as he stood there, wondering, he 
saw that he was eyed by a small, square-shouldered 
Japanese whose head seemed to be too large for his 
body and whose oily deferential grin was not to be 
trusted. He lit a cigarette, and putting on what he 
considered to be an air of extreme nonchalance, 
strolled along until he came to the roulette room. No 
one was there. The candelabra were only partially 
alight. He darted quickly to the window and flung 
It up. The iron steps of the fire-escape ran past it 



Iflj 



132 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

to the roof. " Fine ! " he said to himself. " Now I 
know what to do." 

He shut the window quickly and turned round just 
as the man who had been watching him came in. 
" Say ! " he said. " Just go and get me a high-ball. 
Bring it here." He followed the man to the door and 
into the passage and watched him waddle away. He 
had not been there more than a moment "<'hen the door 
opposite opened bit by bit, and the girl's face, with 
large frightened eyes, peeped round the corner. In 
a little black hat and a plain frock with a very tight 
skirt she looked younger and prettier and more in need 
of help than ev :r Without a word, Graham caught 
hold of her banc , drew her into the passage, shut her 
door, ran her into the roulette room and placed her 
behind the curtains, making sure that her feet were 
hidden. Whistling softly to himself he sat down and 
waited. The man seemed to have been gone half an 
hour. It was really only a few minutes before he 
waddled back on his heels. Graham took the drink. 
" How soon do you think they'll begin to play to- 
night?" he asked, keeping his voice steady with a 
huge effort. 

The Japanese shrugged his shoulders. " As usual, 
sir," he said, smiling from ear to ear and rubbing his 
hands together as though he were washing them. 
" Any time after twelve, sir — any time, sir." 

" All right ! " said Graham. " I shall wait here." 

He kept up the air of boredom until he imagined 
that the small, black-haired, olive-tinted man had had 
time to get well away. Then he sprang to the door. 



THE CITY 



133 



saw that the passage was empty, darted" back into the 
room and over to the window. 

"Come on!" he said. "Quick's the wo.-d!" and 
dimbed out, giving the girl his hand. For a moment 
they stood tor<^ther on the ledge of the fire-escape, the 
stairs of which seemed to run endlessly down With 
a chuckle of triumph Graham shut the window, as 
the girl gave a little cry of dismay. 

She had called that place hell, but from the height 
on which they stood it seerred as though they were 
climbmg down from the sky. 



IV 

" Uptown," said Graham to the taxi driver. " I'll 
tell you where when I know myself." 

A knowing and sympathetic grin covered the big 
Irish face and a raucous yell came from the hard-used 
engine, and the ta.xi went forward with a huee 
jerk. ^ 

The little girl turned her large eyes on Graham, 
^ou do not know vhere you take me?" she 
asked. 

" No, by thunder, I don't. I can't drive you like 
this to a hotel, you've got no baggage. Most of my 
friends live in bachelor apartments, and the women I 
know,— well, I would like to see their faces if I turned 
up with you — and this story." 

The girl's foreign gesture was eloquent of despair. 
She heaved a deep sigh and drew into the comer of 



it , 
1^ 



134 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



i:.: 



■! V I 



the cab. The passing lights shone intermittently on 
her little white face. How small and pitiful and help- 
less she looked. 

The sight of her set Graham's brain working again. 
In getting her out of the Papowsky's poisonous place 
and leading her step by step down the winding fire- 
escape and, when it ceased abruptly in mid-air, into 
the window of a restaurant, he had been brought to 
the end of one line of thought, — that of getting the 
girl safely out of her prison. He now started on 
another, while the cab rocked along the trolley lines 
beneath the elevated railway, sometimes swerving 
dangerously out and round the iron supports. 

Suddenly Graham was seized with an idea. He put 
his head out of the cab window and shouted to the 
driver: "Fifty-five East Fifty-second Street." 

The girl turned to him hopefully. " What ees 
zat?" she asked. 

" My home." 

" Your 'ome ? You take me to your 'ome ? " 

" Why no, not exactly. I'm going in to get a bag 
for you. It won't have much in it except a brush and 
comb and a pair of my pajamas, but with them we 
can drive to any quiet hotel and I'll get a room for 
you. In the morning I'll find a little furnished apart- 
ment and you can go out and buy some clothes and 
the other things that you need. How's that ? " 

Ita caught up his hand and held it against her heart. 
" But you are not going to leave me? " 

" Yes, I must," said Graham. " I shall have to 

■ister you as my sister. You've just come off the 



regis 



THE CITY 



^35 



srjr,":?: ".tor;., ?*• ^-■'."'' 

you every day there " ^ ' " ^'* 

on God to bless hil ^ °n Graham's knees, calling 
throat Something came into the boy's 

thItV.T' r"'"^ ^'■^"' ^^^""^ ''^hind a motor-car 

'oot i;tSa"f tr^t '^^''■■^°" ^-- " 

.sJa..4^---XSSlJ^^ 

AlmostLfo^e th^ 'hTn ^''"'••" '''^ ^•'°"t«=d. 

"Wait for r ,, " u ^'^ '^"PP"'^ ''^ J^aped out. 
wait for me here," he added. 

i-ets meet agam soon!" "'Kuc 

Graham made np his mind what to do He h.^A 






»« 



136 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

"Oh, thank you, Graham," said Dr. Guthrie. 
" Have you just got back? " 

" Yes; I thought I'd get to bed early to-night." 

" You look as though you needed sleep," said the 
Doctor. "But — but don't go up at once. Please 
come and have a cigarette in my room. I've — I've 
been speaking at the Academy of Medicine, — explain- 
ing a new discovery. A gi^at triumph, Graham, a 
great triumph. I would like to tell one of my sons 
about it. Won't you come?" 

There was an unwonted look of excitement on his 
father's thin face and a rmg in his voice which made 
it almost youthful. It was the first time that Graham 
had ever received such an invitation. He was sur- 
prised, and if he had not been so desperately anxious 
to slip up-stairs, lay quick hands on the bag and get 
away again he would have accepted it gladly. For 
a reason that he could not explain he felt at that 
instant an almost unbearable desire to fina his father, 
to get in touch with him, to give something and re- 
ceive something that he seemed to yearn for and need 
more urgently than at any other moment in his life. 
As it was, he was obliged to back out. " I'm fright- 
fully tired to-night," he said, yawning. 

"Oh, are you? I'm sorry," said the Doctor 
apologetically. "Some other night perhaps — some 
other night." 

The two men stood facing each other uncomfort- 
ably. Exhilaration had for a moment broken down 
the Doctor's shyness. It all came back to him when 
he found his son's eyes upon him like those of a 



THE CITY 



137 



stranger. He took ofT his coat and hat, said " Good- 
night " nervously and went quickly across the hall and 
into his library. 

He was deeply hurt. He stood among those price- 
less books with a curious pain running through his 
veins. " What's the matter with me ? " he asked him- 
self. "Why do I chill my children and make them 
draw back ? " 

Graham shut the door, and then as quickly as an 
eel ran up-stairs to his bedroom, turned on the light, 
opened the door of the closet and pulled out a large 
suit-case. Then he began to hunt among the drawers 
of his wardrobe for some pajamas. He threw these 
in. From his bathroom he caught up a brush and 
comb and some bedroom slippers. These followed 
the pajamas. Then he shut the case, picked it up, 
crept quietly down-stairs, across the hall and out into 
the street, shutting the door softly behind him. He 
gave the taxi-driver the name of a small hotel fre- 
quented by actors, and jumped into the cab. 

Ita Strabosck welcomed him as though he had been 
gone a week. " 'Ow good you are to me ! " she cried. 
" Eef you never do anysing else een your life, zis that 
you 'ave done for me vill be written down by zee 
angels een your book." 
Graham laughed. "The angels — I wonder." 
All the same he was a little proud of himself. Not 
many men would have perfected the rescue of this 
little girl so neatly from a house in which her body 
and soul were in jeopardy. It had been an episode 
in his sophisticated life which was all to his credit. 



I I 

1/ 



138 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

Ke felt that,— with pleasure liked the idea of being 
responsible for this poor little soul, of having some 
one dependent entirely upon his generosity and who 
presently would wait for his step with a fluttering 
heart and run to meet him when he came in tired. He 
liked also the thought that this girl would be a little 
secret of his own, — some one personal to himself, to 
whom he could take his worries — and he had many 
— and get sympathy and even advice. 

The cab drew up. Graham released himself from 
the girl's arms and led her into the small and rather 
fuggy foyer of the hotel, which was a stone's throw 
from Broadway. A colored porter pounced upon the 
bag and an alert clerk looked up from the mail that 
he was sorting. 

" I want a room for my sister," said Graham, " with 
bath. Got one? " 

" Fifth floor," said the clerk, after gazing fixedly 
for a moment at something at the back of the screen. 
He then pushed the book towards Graham. 

Without a moment's hesitation, Graham wrote 
" Miss Nancy Robertson, Buffalo," and took the key 
that was extended to him. " Come on, Nancy," he 
said, and led the way to the elevator, in which was 
waiting a tall, florid woman carrying a -mall bulldog 
in her arms. She had obviouslv not taken very great 
pains to remove the make-up f . m her face which had 
been necessary to her small part. Graham recognized 
her as an actress whom he had seen some nights 
before in an English play at the Thirty-ninth Street 
Theatre, and he thouglit how queer life was and what 



THE CITY 



139 



odd tricks It played. Not a foot away from each 
other stood two women, the one just back from a place 
m which she had been aping a human being in a piece 
utterly artificial and untrue, the other who had played 
a part in a tragedy of grim and horrible reality out 
of which she had been carried before the inevitable 
climax. 

The colored boy, with a hospitable grin on his face 
led the way along a narrow, shabby passage whose 
wall-paper was much the worse for wear, and finally 
opened the door of a small bedroom, switching on the 
light. 

" I'll undo the case," said Graham quickly. 
The boy drew back. " Sure." 
"And say! If you'll see that my sister gets what 
she rings for I'll give you five dollars." 

"You bet your life, sah." There was a dazzling 
glint of white teeth. 
" Thanks." 
"You welcome." 

The cry of joy and relief which made the whole 
room quiver, as soon as the porter had gone uent 
straight to Graham's heart. " I guess it's not much 
of a room," he said, a little huskily, " but we'll change 
all this to-morrow." 

The girl ran her hand over the pillow and the bed- 
cover. "Oh, but eet ees zo sweet and clean," she 
said, between tears and laughter, "and no one can 
come. Eet ees mine. You are zo, so good to me." 
Graham undid the case and spilt the meagre con- 
tents on the bed. Then he put his hands on Ita's 




li 



140 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



4 > 



shoulders and kissed her. "Good-night, you poor 
little thing," he said. "Sleep well, order anything 
that you want, and don't leave this room until I come 
and fetch you. Your troubles are over." 

She clung to him. " But you vill stay a leetlc — 
just a leetle ? " 

" No, I'm going now." 

There was nowhere in Graham's mind the remotest 
desire to stay. A new and strange chivalry had taken 
the place of the passion that had swept over him earlier 
in the evening when the blue light had fallen on her 
slim body. 

She looke'l into Sis face, nodded and put her lips 
to his cheek. • oood night, zen," she said. " You 
'ave taken mt out of hell. You are very good." 

And as Graham walked home under the gleaming 
moon and the star-bespattered sky, there was a little 
queer song in his rather lonely heart. 

Poor, simple, sophisticated lad! How easy it had 
been for that cunning little creature whose one ambi- 
tion was to be the mistress of an apartment in business 
for herself, to take advantage of his unfed sense of 
adventure. She, and fate, had certainly played him 
a very impish trick. 



The Oceanic had been timed to dock at four-thirty, 
but the thick mist at the mouth of the Hudson had 
caused some delay and her mail had been heavy. The 
consequence was that she was edged in to her dock 



THE CITY 



141 



considerably more than an hour late, to be welcomed 
by an outburst of long-expectant handkerchiefs. 

During the period of waiting — by no means un- 
pleasant, because the sun fell warml> ipon the won- 
derful river — several brief, emotional conversations 
took place between the people who had come to greet 
Peter. The Guthries were there in a body,— even 
Ethel had pulled herself together and had come to be 
among the first to greet her favorite brother. Graham 
wouldn't have missed the occasion for anything on 
earth. His love for Peter was deep and true. And 
It was good to see the excitement of them all and of 
the little mother, who was in a state of verging be- 
tween tears and laughter all the time. Her big boy 
was coming home again and once more she would 
have the ineflFable joy of tucking him up at night some- 
times, and asking God to bless him before she drew 
the clothes about his ears as she had done so often. 
Even the Doctor found it necessary to take oflf his 
glasses several times and rub them clear of the mois- 
ture that prevented him from seeing the approaching 
vessel which seemed to have given herself up to the 
bullying of the small but energetic tugs whose blunt 
noses butted into her. 

Betty brought her father; and these two, with a 
delicacy of feeling characteristic of them, placed them- 
selves among the crowd away from the Guthrie fam- 
ily. Intuitively, Betty knew that much as Mrs. 
Guthrie liked her, she would rather resent her pres- 
ence there at such a moment. Belle's quick eyes very 
soon discovered them, however, and presently they 



As'-i 



143 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



permitted themselves to be drawn into the family 
group. 

It was a curious moment for Ranken Town=,»nd and 
his feelings were not unlike those of little Mrs. 
Guthrie. " My God ! " he said to himself as he stood 
looking out at the wide river, its marvellous and 
strenuous life and the amazing sky-line of the build- 
ings on the opposite bank ; " has the time arrived 
already for me to lose my little girl? Am I so old 
that I have a young thing ripe enough for marriage 
and to bring into the world young things of her 
own ? " 

The artist had only met the elder Guthries once be- 
fore, although Belle was a particular friend of his, 
having been frequently brought to his studio by Betty. 
He knew Peter only from having seen him in the treas- 
ured snapshots which his little daughter brought home 
with her from Oxford. He had to confess to him- 
self — although his natural jealousy made him unwill- 
ing to do so — that Peter looked just the sort of man 
whom he would like his daughter to marry when her 
time came. ArU so he singled out Mrs. Guthrie 
almost at once and drew her aside. The breeze blew 
tlirough his Viking beard, and a fellow-feeling 
brought into his eyes an expression of sympathy which 
immediately warmed Mrs. Guthrie's heart towards 
him. " I didn't want to come this afternoon, Mrs. 
Guthrie," he said. "Shall I explain why?" 

" No," said the little mother. " I quite under- 
stanii." 

" Your boy and my girl are following the inevitable 



THE CITY 



t:ii 



143 



laws of nature, and it's rather hard luck for us both 
isn t It r 

Mrs Guthrie put her handkerchief „p to her mouth 
and nodded. 

" Betty's a good girl and I've only to look at you to 
know that the man to whom she's given her heart is 
a fine fellow. Well, it brings us up to another mile- 
stone, doesnt it? -one that I wish was still some 

with unselfishness, and be friends. Shall we'" 
han7''^'''" '"'"^ '''' ""'^ '"°"'''' ^'""S "™ her 
Ranken Townsend bared his head 
And then Dr. Guthrie came ip and peered at the 
man who was talking to his wife. He vaguely re- 
membered the artist's picturesque appearance and fine 
open face, but he had forgotten his name 

Mrs. Guthrie hurried to the rescue. " You remem- 
ber Mr. Townsend, of course. Hunter," she said. 
Betty s father, you know." 

"I beg your pardon," said the Doctor "Of 
course I remember you, and I'm very tielighted to see 
you agam You have friends coming on the Oceanic 
too, then ? " 

Townsend laughed. "No, I don't know anvbodv 
on her - not a soul. All the same I've come to meet 
your son." 

" Indeed ! It's very kind of you, I'm sure." And 

hen the Doctor suddenly remembered that sooner or 

later he d be obliged to share Peter with the man who 

stood before him, and just for a moment he -like 



144 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



li 


■ t 


; ■ i 


» 



f 



his wife and like the other father — felt the inevitable 
stab of jealousy. He covered it with a cordial smile. 
" What am I thinking about ? Betty brought you, 
naturally. We must meet more often now, Mr. 
Townsend." 

" I should like nothing better. I don't know your 
boy yet except through his photographs and my hav- 
ing met his mother, but I'm very proud to know that 
my little girl is to bear a name that will always be 
honoured in this country." 

Dr. Guthrie blushed and bowed, and put his hand 
up to his tie nervously. 

It was a curious little meeting, this. All three 
parents were self-conscious and uncomfortable. They 
would have been antagonistic but for the very true 
human note that each recognized. They were all 
reminded of the unpleasant fact that they were in 
sight of a new and wide cross-road in their lives, 
along which they were presently to see two of their 
young people walking away together hand in hand. 
Parentliood has in it everything that is beautiful, but 
much that is disappointing and inevitable — much that 
brings pain and a sudden sense of loneliness. 

There was a very different ring in the conversation 
of Betty and Belle, who stood a few yards away sur- 
rounded by people of all the strange conglomerate 
nationalities which go to make up the population of 
the United States. Good-tempered, affectionate and 
excitable Hebrews were already shouting welcomes to 
their friends on the Oceanic, as the vessel drew slowly 
nearer. Temperamental Irish were alternately wav- 



THE CITY 



145 



mg handkerchiefs and daubing their eyes with them 
and others -of French, German, Dutch, Swedish,' 
Norwegian, Russian and English extraction - were 
trymg to discern the faces of those who were near 
and dear to them among the passengers who were 
leanmg over the rails of the vessel. It was an ani- 
mated and moving scene, very much more cheery than 
the ones which take place on the same spot when the 
great trans-Atlantic Liners slip out into the river. 

"Look!" cried Belle. "There's Nicholas. Isn't 
he absolutely and wonderfully English ? " 

"And there's Peter!" said Betty, with a catch in 
her voice. "And isn't he splendidly American?" 

" Oh, I'm so excited I can hardly stand still. I've 

dreamed of this every night ever since we came home " 

"So have I. But this is better than dreams. 

Look! Peter has seer. us. He's waving his hat. 

Even his hair seems to be sunburnt." 

Belle laughed, though her eyes were full of tears 
" I can almost smell the violet stuff that Nicholas puts 
on his." 

Then there was the usual rush as the liner slid into 
her berth, and as Mrs. Guthrie was swept away with 
It, holding tight to Graham's arm, she said to herself- 

He waved to Betty first. O God, make me brave! " 

All the same, it was the little mother to whom Peter 
went first as he came ashore, and he held her very 
tight, so that she could hardly breathe, and said: 

Darling mum! How good to see you! " and there 
was something in that. 

The Doctor took his boy's big hand with less self- 



]f -i, i 



146 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



ft'-i' 



'^|j: 



*i^r 



consciousness than usual. He wished that he might 
have had the pluck to kiss him on both cheeks and thus 
follow the excellent example of a little fat Frenchman 
who had nearly thrown him off his balance in his 
eagerness to welcome a thin, dark boy. 

"Hello, Belle! Hello, Graham! Hello, Ethel!" 
And then Peter stood in front of Betty, to whom he 
said nothing, but the kiss that he gave her meant more 
than the whole of a dictionary. " Oh, my Peter ! " 
she whispered. 

Nicholas Kenyon followed with his most winning 
smile, and was cordially welcomed. He had charming 
things to say to everyone, especially to Belle. After 
close scrutiny, Ethel's inward criticism of him was 
that he had " escaped being Oxford." 

And then Ranken Townsend held out his hand. 
" But for me, Peter Guthrie," he said, " you wouldn't 
have had a sweetheart. Shake ! " 

A wave of color spread all over Peter's brown face. 
He grasped the outstretched hand. " I'm awfully 
glad to see you," he said. 

" And I'm awfully glad to see you." The artist 
measured the boy up. Yes, he was well satisfied. 
Here stood a man in whose clean eyes he recognized 
the spirit of a boy. Betty had chosen well. " Do 
you smoke a pipe ? " 

" Well, rather." 

" I thought so. Bring it along to my studio as soon 
as your mother can spare you and we'll talk about 
life and lo- and the great hereafter. Is that a bet? " 

" That's a bet," said Peter. And he added, putting 



THE CITY 



147 



his mouth close to Betty's ear: "Darling, he's a 
corker! He likes me. Gee, that's fine ! " Then he 
turned to his mother, ran his arm round her shoulder, 
walked her over to the place in the great echoing, bus- 
thng shed over which a huge " G " hung, and sat down 
with her on somebody else's trunk which had just 
been flung there, to wait with unapproving patience 
for that blessed time when one of the officialdom's 
chewing gods, having forced a prying hand among his 
shirts and underclothing, should mark his baggage 
with a magic cross and so permit him to reconnect 
himself with life. 

Nicholas Kenyon, as immaculate as though he had 
just emerged from a bandbox, slipped his hand sur- 
reptitiously into Belle's. " Are you glad to see me ? " 
he asked, under his breath. 

Belle said nothing in reply, but the look that she 
gave him instead set that expert's blood racing through 
his veins and gave him something to look forward to 
that alone made it worth crossing a waste of unneces- 
sary water. 






n 



VI 

" A VERY pleasant domestic evening," said Kenyon, 
standing with his back to the fireplace of the library.' 
"The bosom of this family is certainly very warm, 
Peter, my dear old boy, I had no idea that you were 
going to bring me to a house in which a Prime Min- 
ister or the President of the Royal Academy might 
be very proud to dwell. Also, may I congratulate you 



1^ 11 



148 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



\i\ i 



V ■:» 



upon your little sister? She's a humorist. I found 
myself furbishing up all my epigrams when I spoke 
to her. By Jove, sh»'s like a BaHol blood with his 
hair in a braid." 

A quiet chuckle came from Graham, who was sit- 
ting on the arm of a big detp chair, looking up at Ken- 
yon with the sort of admiration that is paid by a 
student to his master. " I don't know anything about 
Baliol bloods," he said, " but Ethel takes a lot of beat- 
ing. When she quoted Bernard Shaw, at dinner, 
father nearly swallowed his fork." 

Peter was sitting on the table, swinging his legs. 

" Oh, she'll be all right when she gets away from 
her school. She'll grow younger every day then. 
What awful places they are — these American girl 
schools. They seem to inject into their victims a sort 
of liquid artificiality. It takes a lot of living down. 
Upon my soul, I hardly knew the kid! Two years 
have made a most tremendous difference in her. I 
thought I should throw a fit when she looked at me 
- just now in the drawing-room and said : ' The child- 
ish influence of Oxford has left you almost unspoiled, 
Peter, dear.' " 

Kenyon laughed. "Excellent!" he said. "I 
know the English flapper pretty well. It'll give me 
extreme delight to play Columbus among the Amer- 
ican variety of the species." He looked round the 
beautiful room with an approving eye. " That must 
have been a very civilized old gentleman who made 
this collection. I wonder if he bought some of the 
books from Thrapstone- Wynyates ! My father was 



THE CITY 

iTZ If r,H°' ',""" "^" "•" - -~" 

"^;.s«rv bullion Jy„„ ,?"' '""' "«' ™« ' «'* 
" I hope not," said Peter 

there J do? •"'""' "°''°"'" "'^ ^-^°"- " ""t whafs 
"Oodles of things," said Graham. 

monlt; r ,e'lr-^ /'"^ f "^ ^°"- ^''^ ^"" 
for twinkling aL.es the ri; '.' ^'^"" "^ ^ ""■"' 

*e.epS:;";Ss;;j:„Ti;i-"*r*°^ 

tta^rnr- "=---.= 

the nfost des^eratelv tr"". """""^^°- "^'^ 
added i„wart,r^.taV;hT;S.r--" And He 

round and have a iaw ? tu ■ ^ '^°'"* 

matavir„^. jaw — ? Thanks, awfully! I'll 
' *'"' "^''' ^^^^^ He turned back to the other 



1. 



I' 



ISO THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

two men. " Great work," he said. " You two will 
have to go alone to-night. However, we've a thou- 
sand years in front of us. See you at breakfast. So 
long ! " 

" Wait a second," said Graham. " I'll ring up a 
taxi and we'll all ride down together." 

" Right-o ! " said Peter. " I'll rush up to my room 
and get a pipe." 

When he came down again he found Kenyon and 
Graham waiting at the open door. A ta.xicab was 
chugging on the curbstone. Kenyon got in first, with 
his long cigarette holder between his teeth and a 
rakish-looking opera hat balanced over his left eye. 
He carried a thin black overcoat. All about him there 
was the very essence of Piccadilly. Peter sat beside 
him and Graham opposite. The cab turned round, 
crossed Madison into Fifth Avenue and went quickly 
downtown. The great wide street, as shiny as that 
of the Champs 6lysee, was comparatively clear of 
traffic. Peter looked at the passing houses with the 
intense and affectionate interest of the man who comes 
home again. At the corner of West Forty-second 
Street Graham stopped the cab. "It's only a short 
walk to the best of the cabarets," he said ; " we'll let 
Peter go straight on. Come on, Nicholas, bundle 
out." 

" Where are we going; ' asked Kenyon, making a 
graceful exit, 

" Louis Martin'?, old boy," said Graham. 

" Pretty hot stuff. I hope. Au revoir, Peter. Do 
your best to make the bearded paint merchant like you. 



THE CITY 



»Si 



You'll have some difficulty " AnH with ♦»,,» ^- 

*... «»■»<■,■.,.<, „ „™ .', ,J'i:^^js 

now, my lad," he said cordially " I took th. 

to a party. You may meet her mother, I'm not sure 
She s out at one of her meetings -she spends her 
I'fe at meetmgs-and if she comes in tired a she 
generally does, she probably won't come into h 
ud o. However, that need only be a pleasure de- 
o7l%ulZr^'' I^ so, she'll nail you for one 

rat'he'r^eTot"" ^^'^ '"^^' -'*^ -''"<'^- " ^'^ 

rf' n the room looked larger than it was. It reeked 

to I.- pervaded w,th the personality of the man vTh„ 
spent most of his life in it n„« t .u 

ms lite in it. One of the top windows 

through It came the refreshing air that 
♦>"■ Hudson. Peter caupht ^ glimpse 



blew 



of 



; sky, which was alive with stars. It 



was a 



good 



I 



I t| 



152 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



!l^ 



It. 



Work was done there. It 



place. He liked 
inspired him. 

The artist took Peter's hat and coat and hung them 
in the alcove. Then he went across tlic room and 
turned up the light that hung over a canvas. " How 
d'you like it?" he asked. 

Peter gave an involuntary cry. There sat Betty 
with her hands folded in her lap. To Peter she 
seemed to have been caught at the very moment when 
from his place at her feet he looked up at her just 
before he held her in his arms for the first time. Her 
face was alight and her eyes full of tenderness. It 
was an exquisite piece of work. 

Townsend turned out the light. He was well 
pleased with its eflfect. Peter's face was far better 
than several columns of printed eulogy. " Now come 
and sit down," he said. " Try this mixture. It took 
me five years to discover it, but since then I've used 
no other." He threw himself on the settee and set- 
tled his untidy head among the cushions. 

The light shone on Peter's strong profile, and when 
Townsend looked at it he saw there all that he Iioped 
to see, and something else. There was a little smile 
round the boy's mouth and a look in his eyes that 
showed all the warmth of his heart. 

" And so you love my little girl as much as that? 
Well, she deserves it, but please don't take her away 
from me yet. I can't spare her. She and my work 
are all I've got, and I'm not lying when I say that she 
comes first. Generally when a man reaches my age 
he has lived down his dependence on other people for 



THE CITY 



»S3 



Snnd h" , u ""''" '"=''"'' '"■^ --*--. his 
mv litM. "['''!"• ^" ""^ "^^ "•«' '•»"•' ^o. and 

mer. She renders my disappointments almost null 
and void, and she encourages me not wliolly to sa r.fi e 
rnyself to the filthy dollar-an easy temp'a^onl In 
"v mtirh- , '° '°"' '^ '" '"° ^''^' ^ '""y "o take 

tTee Doe Ih'r" ""I '"'" ' "^^' f- "^^ '"--'her 
tree. Does that sound very selfish to you? " 

No, said Peter; "I understand. Besides - 
good Lord!-rve got to work before I carmake 
Lgt-- '"" "°"^'' '"' ''"• ^'^ — bacTto 

m;2r' ^'"'•' ^ "'°"^'" P"haps that Oxford 
™ght hav^e taken .some of the good .American grit out 
tT\ /' J"^' — ^d to me that you might be T. 

Zllr\ '''"■; '"P ^°" "'^'■^ y- -"'--'to 
remam an undergraduate out here in life. A 'ood 

7Z tZ.Z7 *"" ^'"' '-'-'''' ^^'"-^ p'^^ '^- 

in mv'bloH"°'T ".'•'':' ^''"' "•"" *'^"^'^ ^^'"^thing 

oTtV r *'""'' "■' porridge.- that urges mf 

feeliS r'f- ^"''^^' ^ •''^""•^ "«' 'here's 

me w nf to ^" 1 .' '°"'"'"^ ^''""^ ""' 'hat makes 

rm r^n . Tu ,^ "^ ^'"'^^ ^°^ -" '"^-t he's done. 

Im most awfully keen to do that. Mr. Townsend- 

H^ money has come by acci.ient. I'm not going to 

ak advantage of it. I'm going to start in just as U 

to b^V \""' hard-working doctor that he used 

o be when he sent me to Harvard, skinning himself 

'odoso. I think he'll like that. Anyway. Lt'T my 



!|(ii 



I 



p r;.i 



In 



154 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

plan. And as to Oxford, — well, I should have to be 
a pretty rotten sort of a dog if I didn't gain something 
there — that wonderful place out of which men have 
gone, for centuries, all the better for having rushed 
over its quads and churned up tlie water of its little 
old river and stood humbly in its chapels. Don't you 
think so?" 

" I do indeed, my dear lad ; but somehow or other 
the younger generation doesn't seem to take advantage 
of those things, and the sight of the young men of 
the present day and their callous acceptance of their 
fathers' efforts make me thank God that I never had a 
boy. I sliould be afraid. Think of that! What are 
you going to do, Peter? What is your line of 
work ? " 

" The law." 

"The law? Well, I guess that's a queer sort of 
maze to put yourself into. An honest man in the law 
is like a rabbit in a dog kennel. Is that your definite 
decision? " 

" Absolutely," said Peter. " I chose the law for 
that reason. I think that honesty is badly needed in 
it. I've got a dream that one of these days I shall be 
a judge and make things a bit easier for all the poor 
devils wlio have made mistakes." 

"God help you!" 

" I shall ask him to," said Peter. 

The artist looked up quickly. In his further keen 
and rather wistful scrutiny of the great big square- 
shouldered man with the strong, clean jaw-line anil 
the firm mouth there was a little astonishment. " Do 



THE CITY ,55 

you mean to tell me that in the middle of these queer 
;.->d.sc.p,.„ed, individualistic times you beTeve 1 

pJ.iV°°"? r""'"''^ '■" ^'''™« f°^ « "'°'"-t. until 
Pe er leaned forward and knocked out his pi,,. - 

you be quite so r^ady to trust Betty to ;,c>" 

At that moment the door was swuni; ope," and a 
all. stout hard-bosomed woman with a L-,ss ^i ':" 
hair and the carriage of a battleship sa.le.l i„ Ifer 
evenmg clothes glistened with sequins and nunv l„r.^ 
b ads rattled as she came forward. She wore a' stri,;: 
of pearls and several diamond rings. Unable to (Iglu 
any longer aga.nst advancing years and preserve wLt 

had cultivated a presence and developed distinction. 

n any meetmg of women she was inevitably voted to 
tl>e cha.r, and in the natural order of things became 
president of all the Societies to which she attached h"! 
self, except one. In this isolated case the woman who 

upplanted her. for the time being, was even taller 
stouter and harder of bosom,- in fact, a born presi- 

The two men rose. 

findth*'' ^^f'"- '*'" "P' *•''"' ^ half-expected to 
find the studio m darkness. You'll be glad to hear 
that we passed a unanimous resolution to-night con- 
demning this country as a republic and asking that it 
Shall become a monarchy forthwith." 

Townsend refrained from looking at Peter " In- 
«leedl" he said gravely. "An evening well spent. 



ti 



ift-lL 



! if':)i' 



iS6 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



irir 



f 

ill 



tm 



But I want you to know Peter Guthrie, Dr. Hunter 
Guthrie's eldest son, just home from Oxford." 

Mrs. Townsend extended a large well-formed hand. 
" Let me see ! What do I know about you ? You're 
the young man who — Oh, now I remember. 
You're engaged to Betty. But before I forget it, and 
as you are just out of Oxford, I'll put you down to 
speak afthe annual meeting next Tuesday at the Wal- 
dorf, of the Society for the Reconstruction of Uni- 
versity Systems. Your subject will be ' Oxford as a 
Menace to the Younger Generation.' Tliere will be 
no fee — I beg your pardon ? " 

Peter's face was a study in conflicting emotions. 
He looked like a lonely man being run away with in 
a car that he was wholly unable to drive. Townsend 
turned a burst of laughter into a rasping co '\ 
" You're awfully kind," said Peter, almost stamnii-r- 
ing. " But I believe in Oxford." 

" Ah ! Then you shall say so to the Society for the 
Encouragement of Universities, on Thursday at eight 
sharp, at the St. Mary's Public School Building, Brook- 
lyn." 

" As a matter of fact, I don't speak," said Peter. 
"I — I never speak." 

" Why, then, you shall be one of the chief thinkers 
at the bi-monthly meeting of the Californian Cogita 
tors. I'm not going to let you off, so make up your 
mind to that. And now I'm going to bed. I'm as 
tired as a dog. Good-bye, Paul, — 1 mean Peter. Ex- 
pect me to call you up one day soon. There's so much 
to do with this world chaos that we must all put our 



THE CITY 157 

hands to the wheel." And with a wave of her hand, 
Mrs. fownsend sailed majestically away 

Peter gasped for breath and the artist subsided into 
the diyan and gave way to an attack -a very spasm 
— of laughter, which left him limp and weak 

" Never allow Betty to get bitten by the meeting- 
bug, son, he said, when he had recovered. " It isn't 
any fun to be married to a bunch of pamphlets. 
What! Are you off now?" 

"I'm afraid I've kept you up, as it is, Mr. To^vn- 
send. I _ I want to thank you for your immense kind- 
ness to me. I shall always remember it. Good 
night ! ' 

Rankin Townsend got up, stood in front of Peter 

for a moment and looked straight at him. He was 

senous again. "Good night, my dear lad," he said. 

I feel that I can trust Betty to you and that takes a 

load off my mind. Come often and stay later " 

Peter walked all the way home along Madison Ave- 
nue. That part, at any rate, of the great sleepless 
cty was resting and quiet, and the boy's quick foot- 
steps echoed through the empty street. He was glad 
10 be back again in New York -glad and thankful 
-Somewhere, in one of her big buildings, was his love- 
.i?irl — the woman who was to be his wife — the rea- 
son of his having been born into the world. No won- 
<ler he believed in God. 



'§ 



H: 



i-.:i 



158 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



VII 



mi 






The following afternoon Peter was to call at the 
apartment-house on Gramercy Park at half-past-four. 
He had arranged to take Betty for a walk, — a good 
long tramp. There were heaps of things that he 
wanted to tell her and hear, and several points on which 
he wanted to ask her advice. He was not merely 
punctual, as becomes a man who is head over heels 
in love — he was ten minutes before his time. All the 
same, he found Betty waiting for liim in tlie hall, 
talking to a big burly Irishman who condescended to 
act as hall-porter and who looked not unlike a briga- 
dier-general in his rather over-smart uniform. This 
man had known Betty for many years and watched her 
grow up; had received many kindnesses from her and 
had seen her bend by the hour over the cot of his own 
little girl when she was ill. His face was a study 
when he saw Peter bound into the place, catch sight 
of Betty and take her in his arms, and without a single 
touch of self-consciousness pour out a burst of in- 
coherent joy at being with her once more. 

Catching his expression, in which surprise, resent- 
ment and a sort of jealousy were all mixed, Betty said, 
when she got a chance : " Peter, this is a friend of 
mine, Mr. O'Grady." 

Peter turned and held out his hand. " How are 
you? All Miss Townsend's friends have got to be 
my friends now." 

The Irishman's vanity was greatly appealed to by 



THE CITY 



'59 



tt" 



the simple manlinesE of Peter's greeting, his cheery 
smile and his utter lack of side. He smiled back and, 
having given the hand a warm grip, drew himself up 
and saluted. At one time he had served in the British 
Army, and he wanted Peter to know it. He would 
have told him the story of his life then and there with, 
very likely, a few picturesque additions, but before 
he could arrange his opening sentence the two young 
people were out in the street. He watched them go 
off together, the one so broad and big, the other so 
slight and sweet, and said to himself, rolling a new 
quid of tobacco between his fingers : " .J^h. thin ; it's 
love's young dream once more ! And it's a man he is. 
God bless both of them! " 

"Are you feeling strong to-day, darling?" asked 
Peter. 

" Strong as a lion," said Betty. " Why? " 

" Because I'm going to walk you up the Avenue and 
into the Park and about six times round the reservoir. 
Can you stand it ? " 

Betty laughed. "Try me, and if I faint from ex- 
haustion you can carry me into the street and call a 
taxi-cab. I'm not afraid of anything with you." 

"That's fine! This is the first time we've been 
really alone since I came back. It'll take from now 
until the middle of next week to tell you even half 
the things I've got to say. First of all, I love 
you." 

'' Darling Peter." 

" I love you more than I ever did. much more — a 
hundred times more — and I don't care who hears me 



II 



uk 






i6o THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

say so." That was true. He made this statement, 
not in a whisper, but in his natural voice, and it was 
overheard by several passers-by wlio turned their 
heads, — and being women, smiled sympathetically and 
went on their way with the deep thrill of the young 
giant's voice ringing in their ears like music. 

They stood for a moment en the curbstone trying 
to find an opportunity to cross the street. Betty gave 
herself up to the masterly person at her side witliout 
a qualm. She adored being led by the arm through 
traffic which she wouldn't have dared to dodge had 
she been alone. It gave her a new and splendid sense 
of security and dependence. 

The rain had begun to fall softly. It gathered 
strength as they turned into Fifth Avenue, and came 
down smartly. Betty didn't intend to say a word about 
the fact that she was wearing a new hat. It had es- 
caped Peter's notice. Her face was all he saw. He 
wasn't even aware that it was raining until he took 
her arm and found her sleeve was wet. 

" Good Lord ! " he said. " This won't do. Dash 
this rain, it's going to spoil our walk. Where can we 
go? I know." A line of taxis was standing on a 
stand. He opened the door of the first one. " Pop 
in, baby," he said. " We'll drive to the Ritz and have 
tea. I can't have you getting wet." 

Betty popped in, not really so profoundly sorry to 
escape that strenuous walk as Peter was. 

Being a wise man he took full advantage of the taxi- 
cab, and for all the fact that it was broad daylight 
and that anybody who chose could watch him, he gave 



I* ' 



THE CITY ,6, 

Betty a series of kisses which did something to make 

up for lost t„ne and a long separ.for,. Th! tXl 

uffered rather in t.,e process but what d.d th ma . 

Hovels his^^er »— ^^ ^-ep.aced - such 

^ther had something J his f;VnS;;waVt 
ha there was nothing I couldn't tell him ~ nothng 
^>at he wouldn t understand. Well, well- there it Ts 

^^n :^"' ''"' ^r"--°".as bei;:: z 

tverythmgll come out all right. I hope." 
How d>d you like mother?" asked Betty 

the Tre test"are''''< "■; """'"'"^ ""'' ^"^^ -■'" 
u^mfr^ she undoubtedly a wonderful 

Noman but she scares me to death. The verv firsf 

say'" i"»Kmg. What are you gomg to 

ta "cr list. v\ill you promise that? 



i62 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



, f 



4 



Already I wake up in the middle of the night in an 
absolute panic." 

"Don't worry," said Betty, "Mother's a very 
strong-minded woman, but she's awfully easy to 
manage. And now I want you t<3 promise me some- 
thing." 

"Anything in the world," said Peter. 

" Well, then, don't mistake the Ritz for that dear 
little open place where the fairies dance, and suddenly 
kiss me in front of the band and all the people having 
tea." 

" Hard luck," said Peter. " I'll do the best I can. 
But you're such an angel and you look so frightfully 
nice that I shall have all I can do to keep sane." 

The cab drew up and they got out, went through the 
silly swinging doors which separate a man from his 
girl for a precious moment and into the Palm Court 
where the band was playing. Peter gave his hat and 
stick to a disgruntled waiter, who would have told 
him to check them outside but for his height and 
width. 

The place was extraordinarily full for the titne of 
year. Everywhere there were women, and e\ery one 
of them was wearing some sort of erect feather in her 
hat. It gave the place the appearance of a large 
chicken run after a prolonged fracas. The band was 
playing the emotional music of La Bohi-me. It was 
in its best form. The waiter led them to a little tablt- 
under a mimic window-sill which was crowded with 
plants. Many lieads turned after them as they ad 
ventured between the chattering groups. It was so 



THE CITY 



163 



•'What sort of tea do you like?" asked Peter 

A yth,„g hot and wet. or have you a cho «> 

Reany. I dont know the difference between one and 

tetd toast. °""'^ '-'''' '-'• ^"^ -''• "-d •>- 

h s Us .n .. "■''" '"° '^'^ '°^ ^"'^'' P'^«« ^nd 
end of the room Kenyon was sitting with Belle. Betty 
had seen them at once, but she held her peace For 
he first t,me in her life she appreciated tL a;t tha 
wo ,s company. Both men were too occ p d to 
recognize anybodv. "<-Lupiea to 

evemhini'' 7h ''"'"" '"'^ '"" "' ^""'"■'**»'"" about 
e erjthmg, and Betty was an eager listener as he talked 

an.l new and exhdaratmg. and it didn't require much 
-a.,„at.on on the part of either of them'to beTi 
hat they were s,tt„,g in their own house, far awav 
ro,„ people, and that Peter had just come home ate 

•it oh 'V'' "" ""' '''^- ''■^"" -- '■>-> new 
\K roa performing in the corner. Only one thini 

•;:;-ie Hetty aware of the fact that thev vere i' ,f 

K t>^ Hotel, and .hat was the pattern of the te cup 

^h never would have cho,sen such things, and if Tv 

'-1 l^-n g,ven ,0 her as a wedding p„se t sl,e loS 



iff 



i64 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



have packed them away in some far-off cupboard. She 
had already made up her mind that their first tea serv- 
ice was going to be bhte-and-white, because it would 
go with her drawing-room, — the drawing-room which 
she had furnished in her dreams. 

" I don't think you'd Ixjuer do that, Peter," whis- 
pered Betty suddenly. 

" Do what, darling? Butter wouldn't have melted 
in his mouth. 

" Why, hold my hand. Everybody can see." 

"Not if you put it behind this end of the table- 
cloth. Besides, what if they can? I'm not ashamed 
of being in love. Are you? " 

" No ; I glory in it. But " 

" But what ? " He held it tighter. 

" I think you'd better give it back to me. There's 
an old lady frowning." 

" Oh, she's only a poor benighted spinster. And 
anyhow she's not frowning. She put her eyebrows 
on in the dark." 

" Very well, Peter. I suppose you know best." 
And Betty made no further attempts to rescue her 
hand. 

She had two good reasons for leaving it there, — the 
first, that she liked it, and tlie second that she couldn't 
take it away. But she made sure that it was hidden 
by the tablecloth. 

" Won't you smoke, Peter ? " 

"Oh, thanks. May I?" 

" All the other men are. " 

Peter took out his case and his cigarette holder. 



THE CITY 



165 



It was very easy to take out a cigarette with one 
hand, but for the life of liim he couldn't man«uvre 
It mto the tube. Was he so keen to smoke that he 
would let her hand go? 

He gave it up and broke into a smile that almost 

made Betty bend forward an.l plant a resounding kiss 

on his square chin. " Well, I'm dashed," he said. 

I believe you asked rn- to smoke on purpose to get 

free. ' 

"I did," she said. " Peter, youVe — you're just a 
darhng." 

And that was why he upset the glass of water. 
^^ Presently he said, when peace was restored: 
"What d'you think I've done to-day? I've fixed up 
a seat in the law office of two friends of mine. They 
were at Harvard with me — corkers both. I intend 
to start work ne.xt week. Isn't that fine? We're 
going to mop up all the work in the city. Darling 
that apartment of ours is getting nearer and nearer.' 
I shall be a tired business man soon and shall 
want a home to go to, with a little wife waiting 
for me." 

And Betty said : " How soon do you think that'll 

Before Peter could answer, Belle's ringing voice 
broke in. She and Kenyon had come up unnoticed. 

The turtle doves," she said. "Isn't it beautiful 
Nick?" 

"Well, rather!" 

And the spell was b.oken They little knew, these 

two who were so happy, that in the fertile brain of the 



i66 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

man who stood smiling at them was the germ of a 
plan which would break their engagement and bring 
a black cloud over the scene. 



VIII 



i;l!' 



% 



n I: 

m 



V 



The family dined early that evening. Graham had 
taken a box at the Maxiiit Klliott Theatre. He and 
Kenyon and Petei .verc to take Belle and Betty there 
to see a play by Edward Sheldon, about which every- 
body was talking. Little Mrs. Guthrie, who was to 
have been one of the party, had decided to stay at 
home, because the Doctor was net feeling very well, 
and so she was going to sit with him in the library 
and see that he went to bed early, and give him a dose 
of one o[ those old-fashioned cures in which she was 
a great believer. 

Naturally enough, although he was not an ardent 
play-goer, Peter was looking forward with keen pleas- 
ure to the evening because he would be able to sit close 
to Betty and from time to time whisper in her ear. 
During dinner, however, which was a very merry 
meal, with Kenyon keeping everyone in fits of laugh- 
ter, Peter caught somethmg in his mother's eyes whidi 
made him revolutionize his plans. The little mother 
laughed as frequently as the rest of them, — to the 
casual observer she v;as merry and bright, with noth- 
ing on her mind except the slight intlisposition of the 
Doctor. But Peter, who possessed an intuitive eye 
which had a knack of seeing underneath the surface 



THE CITY 



167 



of thinps and whose keen sympathy for those he loved 
was very easily stirred, Iwame aware of the fact that 
his mother was only simulating liglit-heartedness and 
stood ill need of something from him. 

He threw his mind back quickly, and in a moment 
knew what \vas wrong. During the short time that 
he had been back in the city he had forgotten to give 
his little mother anything of himself. That was wrong 
and ungrateful and e.\tremely selfish, and must be 
remedied at once. 

VVitliout a moment's he.sitation he decided to cut 
two acts of the play and do everything that he could 
to prove to the little mother who meant so much to 
hmi that, although he vas engaged to be married, she 
still retained her place in his heart. 

Dinner over, he went f|uickly to the door and opened 
It. and as his mother passed out he put his arm round 
her shoulders and whi.-pered. " Mummie, dear, slip 
"I) to your room and wait there for me. I want to 
talk to you." The look of gratitude that he received 
from the dear little woman was an immense reward 
Kir his imselfishness. Then he went up to Graham 
and said : " Look here, old boy, I find I shan't be able 
to go along with you now, but I'll join vou for the 
last act." 

" Oh, rot !" said Graham. "What's up? Betty'll 
lie awfully upset." 

" No, she won't." said Peter. " I'm going to send 
her a note." .And while the others were getting ready, 
lie dashed off a few lines to the girl who, like himself,' 
understood the family feeling. It contained only a 



* I J 



: (•:■! 



MICROCOTY RESOIUTION TEST CHAIIT 

(ANSI ond ISO TEST CHART No. 7) 




Ki ill 2.2 



I 



2.0 



1.8 



1:25 i 1.4 



1^ i^ m 



A APPLIED IIVMGE In 

^5-^ 165! East Moin 5t'ert 

S^E Rochester. New York 1*609 u^ 

^^= (716) *82 - 0300 - Phone 

i^= (716) 288- 5989 - -o. 



m 



\u 



i:* 



r ' 



i68 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

few lines, but they were characteristically Peterish 
and were calculated to make Betty add one more brick 
to the beautiful construction of her love for him, be- 
cause they showed that he understood women and 
their sensitiveness and realized their urgent need of 
tenderness and appreciation. 

As soon as the party had driven away, Peter col- 
lected a pipe and a tin of tobacco and went quickly 
up the wide staircase. He rushed into his mother's 
own particular room with all his old impetuosity and 
found her sit*^ing at a table by the side of a great work- 
basket in which he saw a large collection of the socks 
that he had brought home with him and which stood 
badly in need of motherly attention. No man in this 
world made so many or such quick holes in the toes 
of his socks as Peter did, and he knew that she had 
ransacked the drawers to find them. He drew up a 
chair, thrust his long legs out in front of him and made 
himself completely comfortable. 

This little room was unlike any other in the house. 
In it his mother had placed all the pet pieces of inex- 
pensive furniture wliich had been in the sitting-room 
of the little house in which she and the Doctor had 
settled down when they were first married. It was 
unpretentious stuff, bought in a cheap store in a small 
town, — what is called " Mission " furniture, — curi- 
ous, uncomfortable-looking chairs which creaked with 
every movement, odd little sideboards, which would 
have brought a grin either of pain or amusement to 
the face of the former owner of the beautifully fur- 
nished house which had been left to the Doctor. The 



THE CITY 



169 



walls were covered with photographs of the family i„ 
all stages,- Peter as a chubby baby with a great curl 
on top of his head- Belle in a perambulator smiling 
widely at a colored nurse -Graham in his first sailor 

;?"~ """''''^ ^'""y^'' '" a Partv frock, 

Thmkmg of Mother "-and over the mantel-piece 
one — an enlargement — of the Doctor taken when he 
was a young man, with an unlined face an<l thick 
straight hair his jaws set with that grim detcrmina- 
.on which had carried him over so many obstacles 
It was a room at which Graham, Belle and Ethel fre- 
quently laughed. But Peter liked it and respected it 
He felt more at home there than anywhere else in the 
house. It reminded him of the early struggles of his 
father and mother and touched ever> responsive note 
m his nature. 

"I'm sorry you're not going to the theatre, dear " 
said Mrs. Guthrie. 

" No, you're not," said Peter. 

"Oh indeed I am. I like you to enjoy yourself 
with the others, and Betty'll be there. Only stay a 
few minutes; and, as the curtain always goes up late, 
you 11 be in time to see the whole of the play " 

" Blow the play ! " said Peter. " I'm going to tail- 
to you just as long as I like. I can go to the theatre 
any night of the week." 

Mrs. Guthrie dropped her work, bent forward and 
put her cheek against Peter's. " You're a dear, dear 
boy, she said. " You're my very own Peter, and 
even if I were a poet I couldn't find words to tell you 



how happy you make me; but I did my best 



1/ 



11 



t' U 



not to let 



I 



ir" (!' 




170 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

you see that I was just a wee bit hurt because you 
haven't had time to spare me a few moments since you 
came home. After all, I'm only a little old mother 
now, and I must try to remember that." 

" Oh, don't," said Peter. " I'm awfully sorry I've 
been such a thoughtless brute. But, no one — no, 
no one — can ever take your place, and you know it." 
He went down on his knees at her side and wrapped his 
strong arms round her and put his head upon her 
breast as he used to do when he was a little chap, and 
remained there for a while perfectly happy. 

'le couldn't see the Madonna look which came into 
the eyes of the little mother, whose pillow had fre- 
quently been wet with tears at the thought that she 
had lost her boy. Nor did he see the expression of 
extreme gratitude which spread rather pathetically over 
her face. But he felt these things and held her tightly 
just to show how well he understood, and to eliminate 
from her heart that feeling of pain which he knew 
had crept into it because he had found that other little 
mother who was to be his wife and have sons of her 
own. 

Presently he returned to his chair and to his pipe, 
and began to talk. " By gad ! " he said, " it's good to 
be home again. I find myself looking at everything 
differently now — quite time, too. I should have been 
at work years ago. Universities are great places and 
1 shall never regret Oxford, but they take a long time 
to prepare a fellow to become a man." Then he 
laughed one of his great and big laughs, and his chair 
creaked and one or two of the old pieces of furniture 



THE CITY 171 

seemed to rattle. " I hid those socks, but I knew ■•ou'd 
find them. What a mother you are, mother! Til 
make a bet with you." 

;; I never bet," said Mrs. Guthrie, who was all smiles. 
1 11 bet you a hundred dollars you never mend 
Oraham s socks. Now then tell the truth " 

" Well, no, I don't. He doesn't like socks that have 
been mended; and, anyway, he isn't my first-born. 
You see that makes a lot of diflFerence " 

" There you are," said Peter. " Pay up and smile. 
Oh. say ; I n, sorry father's seedy. He sticks too closely 
to those microbes of his. I shall try to screw up cour- 
age and take him on a bust now and then. It'll do 
him good. Think he'll go ? " 

__ Mrs. Guthrie looked up eagerly. " Try," she said 
Please do try. Now that you've come home for 
good I want you to do everything you can to get closer 
o your father. He's a splendid man an. ,,' always 
thinking about you and the others, but I know that 
he II never make the first move. He doesn't seem to 
understand how to do it. But he deserves evervthing 
you can give him. If only you could break down his 
shyness and diffidence,- because that's what it is- 
you d make him very happy." 

" Yes, that's what I think," said Peter. " I've been 
thinking it over, especially since I saw the way in 
which Kenyon's father treats him. I shall pluck up 
courage one of these nights, beard him in his den and 
have It out, and put things straight. I want him much 
more than he wants me; and. d'you know, I think that 
braham wants him too." 






!.«i 



'< 



1 ■ 




172 



THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



" I'm sure he does," said Mrs. Guthrie. " Gra- 
ham's a good boy, but lie's very reckless and thinks that 
he's older than he is. He comes to me sometimes with 
his troubles, but how can I help him? I wish, Peter, 
I do wish that he'd go sometimes to his father ! " 

" Well, I'm going to try to alter all that," said Peter. 
" It's got to be done somehow. Father's always been 
afraid of us, and we've always been afraid of father. 
It's silly. What d'you think of Nicholas? Isn't he 
a corker?." 

Mrs. Guthrie smiled. " He improves on acquaint- 
ance," she said. " He's certainly one of the most 
charming men I've ever met. Do you think " — she 
lowered her voice a little — " do you think there's any- 
thing between him and Belle ? " 

"Good Lord!" said Peter. "I never thought of 
that. Is there?" 

" Well," said Mrs. Guthrie, " I've noticed one or 
two little things. He's been writing t'- her, you 
know." 

" Has he ? By Jove ! Well, then, there must be 
something in it. He's a la^y beggar and I don't be- 
lieve I've ever seen him write a letter in his life. Gee, 
I shall be awfully glad to have him for a brother-in- 
law ! That topping place in Shropshire ! Belle would 
make an absolutely perfect mistress of it, although 
there's plenty of life in the old man yet. By Jove, 
it was good to see the relationship between Nick and 
his father. It staggered me. Why, they were as 
good as friends. They go about arm in arm and tell 
each other everything. It used to make me feel quite 



THE CITY 



173 



SIC sometimes. Think of my going about arm in 
arm with father ! " 

" Think of P-lle becoming the Countess of Shrop- 
shire! I should like that. It would be another 
feather in your father's cap,— your father who used 
to carry siphons in a basket." 

" More power to his elbow," said Peter. " It might 
have been better for me if I'd carried siphons in a 
basket. After all, I'm inclined to believe that there's 
no university in the world like the streets. Think of 
all the men who've graduated from windy corners and 
muddy gutters — It'd be a fine thing for Ethel, too, 
if Belle marries Nick. Isn't she an extraordinary 
kid? Upon my word, she takes my breath away. 
She's older at sixteen than most women are at thirty. 
By the way, what's the matter with her? What's 
anaemia, anyhow? She looks as fit as a fiddle." 
^^ " Oh, she'll soon get over that," said Mrs. Guthrie. 
"I think they bend too much over books at her school. 
You know the modern girl isn't like the girls of my 
generation. I didn't have to learn geometry or piano 
playing. I didn't think it was necessary to know Eu- 
clid or a smattering of the classics. We learned how 
to make bread and cook a good steak and iron clothes. 
You know husbands don't come home to hear Mozart 
on a Baby Grand and enter into discussions about 
writers with crack-jaw names." 

"I know,— Ibsen, Schopenhauer, Hauptmann and 
Tolstoy. No; they don't fill a hungry tummie do 
they?" 

" No, indeed they don't," snid Mrs. Guthrie. " And 









m 



' I 



174 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 






li " 



\ 



> If* 



that reminds tiic that I must go and give your father 
his little dose. When a doctor isn't well he never knows 
how to lools after himself." She got up and put down 
her work, and then bent over Peter. " Thank you for 
coming up to-night, my dearest boy. I've had a queer 
little pain in my heart for a long time, but you've taken 
it all away. Now run along and see your Betty, and 
don't worry about your little mother any longer." 

Peter got up and put his hands on his mother's shoul- 
ders. " Listen ! " he said. " I love you. I shall al- 
ways love you. No woman shall ever come between 
me and you." And he caught her m his amis and 
kissed her. 

And then she bustled down-stairs to the library, 
where the Doctor was taking it easy for once and 
dipping into one of the numerous books that sur- 
rounded him. There was a smile on Mrs. Guthrie's 
face which was like the sun on an autumn morning. 

On the way to his bedroom Peter passed the door of 
Ethel's room, and drew up short. He had heard her 
say she was going to bed early. He hadn't had many 
words with her since he got back. So he decided to 
go in and wipe off that debt, too. When he tried to 
open the door he found that it was locked. He started 
a devil's tattoo "vith his knuckles. " Are you there, 
Kid ? " he shouted out. 

The answer was " Yes." 

" Well, then, open the door. I want ti come 
in." 

After a moment the door was opened and Ethel 
stood there in a very becoming peignoir. She looked 



I 



THE CITY ,75 

extremely disconcerted and did her best to bloc"- the 
way into the room. 

But that wouldn't do for Peter. " \\hafs all 
th.s?_ he asked. "We lock our door now. do 

.f '7'1 '°"''}'T''" ^^"'d Ethel. •' \\hy aren't vou 
at the theatre.' She shot a surreptitious glance'to- 
war<ls the window, which was open. 
^^ " I've been having a talk with mother." said Peter. 

Frightfully swagger now. isn't it. New art eh' 
You re coming on, my ,lear. there's no mistake about 
don't you" ' ' ^'''" ^"'^ "' '" ^PP^"'"g'>- provincial, 

Ffh)^ ^'^'"^JT °" ^'^'''^ ^ace was no new thing to 
Ethel. He had always pulled her leg and treated her 
as though she were a sort of freak. All the same, she 
ked his coming ,n and was flattered to know that he 
thought It worth while to bother about her. But she 
began to edge him to the door. He had come at a 
most unpropitious moment. 

" Oh ho! •' said Peter. " So this's what higher edu- 
cation does for vou ' A nire m,\-f,„.„ ■ 
«nrl,« I ^^"'"""^ture — cigarettes and 

candies - 1 must say. Now I know whv you locked 
your cioor. With a marshmallow in one hand and an 
Egyptian Beauty in the other you lie on your sofa in 
tne latent thing in peignoirs and see life through the 

table. Good Lord ! " he added ; " you don't mean 
to say you stuff this piffle into you? " It was a col- 
lection of plays by Strinberg. 



176 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



I ii 






" Oh, go to the theatre ! " said Ethel. " You're be- 
ing horridly Oxford now and I hate it." 

" You'll get a lot more of it before I've done with 
you," said Peter. " All tlie same, you look very nice, 
my dear. I'm very proud of you, and I hope you will 
do me the honour to be seen about with me sometimes. 
But how about taking soi c oi that powder off your 
nose? h you begin trying to hide it at sixteen it'll 
be lost altogether at twenty." He made a sudden 
pounce at her and holding both her hands so that she 
could not scratch, rubbed all the powder away from her 
little proud nose aiiJ made for the door, just missing 
the cushion which came flying after him, and took 
himself and his big laugh along the passage. 

Immensely relieved at being left alone, Ethel locked 
the door again and went over to her dressing-table, 
where she repaired damage with quick, deft fingers. 
With another glance at the window, — a glance in 
which there was some inpatience, — she arranged her- 
self on the settee to wau. 



IX 



No wonder Peter had made remarks about this 
room. It was deliciously characteristic of its owner. 
Large and airy: all its furniture was white and it.s 
hangings were of creamy cretonne covered with little 
rosebuds. The narrow bed was tucked away in a cor- 
ner so that the writing-desk, the sofa and the revolv- 
ing book-stand — on which stood a bowl of r-ammoth 



THK CITY ,77 

chrysanthemums -mght dominate the room. Sev- 
eral mezzotints of N\ atts' pi, ur.s hung on the walls 

Sm '' n'T ^;r'' illustrations of the Arabian 
N.ghts. by Dulac. The whole efTect was one of naive 
sophistication. 

Through the open window the various sounis of the 
citys activity floated rather pleasantlv. There was 
even a note of cheerfulness in the insistent bells of the 
trolley-cars on Madison Avenue and the chugging of 
a tax.-cab on the .ther side of the street. Before 
many minutes had gone by a rope ladder dangled out- 
•side the window, and this was followed immediately 
afterwards by the lithe and wiry figure of a boy Wear- 
mg a rather sheepish expression he remained sitting 
on the sill, swinging his legs. "Hello!" said he 

How are you ling?" 
_ "There . some improvement to-night." said Ethel 
^jVont you come in.' Were y<,u waiting for a sig- 

" You bet ! " 

He was a nice boy, with a frank, honest face, a blunt 
nose and a laughing mouth. His hair was dark and 
thick, and his shoulders square. He w- eighteen and 
ne looked every day of it. He lived next door and 
was the son of a man who owned a line of steamships 
and a French mother, who >,as not on speaking tenns 
"■th Mrs. Guthrie, owing to the fact tnat the Doctor 
had been obliged to remonstrate about her parrot 
tins expensive prodigy gave the most l-f»like and 
treriuent imitations of cats, trolley^ai ,, newsbovs, 
s.rens and other superfluous and distressi-g disturb- 



I,. 



m 



IV I 




V' m 



B'i ' >i 



178 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

ances on the window-sill of the room which was next 
to his laboratory. So this boy and girl — uncon- 
sciously playing all over again the story of the Mon- 
tagues and Capulets — met surreptitiously night aftei 
night, the boy coming over the roof and using the rope 
ladder — which had played its part in all the great 
romances. Was there any harm in liini? Well, he 
was eighteen. 

" What'll you have first ? " asked Ethel, in her best 
hostess manner — "candies or cigarettes?" 

" Both," said the boy ; and with a lump in his cheek 
and an expression of admiration in both eyes he 
started a cigarette. He was about to sit on the settee 
at Ethel's feet, but she pointed to a chair and into this 
he subsided, crossing one leg over the other and hitch- 
ing his trousers rather high so that he might display 
to full advantage a pair of very smart socks, newly 
purchased. 

" I hope you locked your bedroom door," said 
Ethel, " and please don't forget to whisper. There's 
no chance of our being caught, but we may as well be 
careful." 

The boy nodded and made a little face. "If father 
found out about this," he said ; " oh, Gee ! What 
did you do with Ellen after she bounced in last night? " 

" Oh, I gave her one of my hats. I told her that if 
she kept quiet there was a frock waiting for her. She's 
safe. Now, amuse me ! " 

For some minutes the boy remained silent, worry- 
ing his brain as to how o comply with the girl's rather 
difficult and peremptory request. He knew that she 



THE CITY 



179 



was not easy to amuse. He was a little 'ightened 
at the books she read and looked up to her with a 
certain amount of awe. He liked her best when she 
said nothmg and was content to sit ,ite quiet an.l 
look pretty. After deep and steady thought he took 
a chance. " Do you know this one? " he asked, and 
started whistling a new ragtime through his teeth 

It was new to Ethel. Sh .iked it. Its rhvthm set 
her feet moving. "Oh. that's f^ne," she said. 
VV hat are the -vords ? " 

The boy was a gentleman. He shook his head, 
thereby .stimulating her curiosity a hund d-fold 

" Oh don't be silly. I shall know tl ., sooner or 

later, whatever they are — besides, I'm not a child" 

The boy lied chi\alrously. " Well, honestly, I don't 

know them,— something about ' Row, row, row '— T 

don't know the rest." 

She knew tliat he did know. She liked him for not 
telling her the truth, but she made a mental note to or- 
der the song the following morning. 

And so, for about an hour, these two young things 
«ho imagined that this was life carried on a desultory 
conversation, while the boy gradually filled the room 
with cigarette smoke, and remained reluctantly a whole 
yard away from the sofa. It was all very childish and 
simple, but to them it was romance with a very big R 
They were making believe that they had thrown the 
world back about a hundred years or so. He was a 
knight and she a lady in an enemy's castle; and, al- 
though their mothers didn't speak, they liked to ignore 
the fact that Mrs. Guthrie would have had no objec- 



hV 



k 



i8o THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



m. 



\ 



tion to his coming to tea as often as he desired and 
taking Ethel for walks in broad daylight whenever he 
wished for a little mild exercise. But, — he was 
eighteen, and so presently, repulsed by her tongue but 
enticed by her eyes, he left his chair and found himself 
sitting on the settee at Ethel's feet, hold' -t; her hand, 
which thrilled him very much. She was kinder than 
usual that night, sweeter and more girlish. Her 
stockings were awfully pretty, too, and her hair went 
into more than usually delicious ripples round her 
face. 

" You're a darling," he said suddenly. " I love to 
come here like this. I hope you'll be ill for a month." 
Aid he slid forward with gyr nastic clumsiness and 
put his arm round her shoulder. He was just going to 
kiss her and so satisfy an overwhelming craving when 
there was a soft knock on the door and Dr. Guthrie's 
voice followed it. "Are you awake, Ethel? ' 

The boy sprang to his feet, stood for a moment vvitli 
a look of peculiar shame on his face, turned on his 
heels, made for the window, went through it like a 
rabbit and up the troubadour ladder, which disappeared 
after him. 

Ethel held her breath and remained transfixed. 
Again the knock came and the question was repeated. 
But she made no answer, and presently, when the sound 
of footsteps died away, she got up — a little peevish 
and more than a little irritable — kicked a small pile 
of cigarette ash which the boy had dropped upon her 
carpet, and said to herself: "Just as he was going to 
kiss me ! Goodness, how annoying father is ! " 



THE CITY 



i8i 






The following morning Belle took Nicholas Ken 

yon for a walk. Dressed in a suit of blue flannel w th 

vhne lM„e buttons, with a pair of white spats glelm 

'ng over patent leather shoes and a grey hat stuck Tt 

an angle of forty-five, Kenyon looked^T f re h a„d a 

with *r ,, . ^^'^' ^' ^ '"^"«'- °f fa-^t. come home 

se s the enviable g,ft of looking healthy and untfred 

tu™ tl V"* "' "''^''^ "'"■'^'' '"^'^^ the ordinary man 
turn to chemistry and vibro-massage 

Belle had sported a new hat for the occasion. 
h.s fact Kenyon realized with that queer touch of 
ntu, ,on which was characteristic of him "By 
Jove! he said. " That's something like a hTt Bell 
Hearty congratulations. You suit 'it to perfectl" " 

Belle beamed upon him. " But you would say that 
anyhow, wouldn't you?" ""'" say mat 

"Perfectly true; but in ninety-nine cases out nf , 
hundred I shouldn't mean it." ^ "^es out of a 

They turned into Madison Avenue. It was an ex 
quisite morning. The whole city was bathed in sfn 

Ss toftef '"' T' °' '^'^ ^"'""" -^ - t^^ "i"' 
ers n. ^^l ^°"''^ ""'' ^*"' <^'°^«d. their own- 

ers lingermg ,„ the country or abroad. All the same 

here was the inevitable amount of traffic in he st e^I 
and apparently the usual number of passers-b . The 
c.t> can be-according to the strange little creatures 



i 



i*i:?^i: 



182 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

who write society news—" utterly deserted " and yet 
contain all its teeming millions. 

" And what may that be? " asked Kenyon, pointmg 
to the heavy white buttresses of a church which backed 
on the street. 

" Oh, that's the Roman Catholic Cathedral." 
"Roman Catholic, eh? I noticed churches every- 
where as we drove up from the docks,— more churches 
than pubs apparently, and yet I suppose it would be 
quite absurd to imagine that New Yorkers imbibe 
their alcohol entirely in the form of religion." 

" Quite," said Belle, dryly. " Although we have a 
hundred religions and only five cocktails." 
" I see you also go in for antique furniture." 
Belle laughed. " You have a quick eye," she said. 
" There's so much genuine Old English stuff in this 
city that if it were sent to England there wouldn't 
be room for it on shore. Tell me; what are your 

plans? " 

" Well," said Kenyon, " I'm going to accept your 
father's perfectly charming hospitality for a fortnight 
and then take rooms in a bachelor apartment-house, of 
which Graham has told me, for the winter." 

"You're going to settle down here?" cried Belle. 
" Rather,— for six months. I'm here to study the 
conditions, make myself familiar with the character- 
istics and J aw from both what I hope will be the 
foundations of much usefulness." Kenyon consid- 
ered that he had enveloped his true mission — which 
was to lighten the pockets of all unwary young men — 
with a satirical verbiage that did him credit. 



THE CITY 



183 



" I thought that perhaps you'd come for some other 
reason," said Belle, whose whole face showed her dis- 
appointment. 

Kenyon shot a quick glance at her. How naive 
she was — how very much too easy — but, neverthe- 
less, how very young and desirable. " That goes with- 
out saying, you delicious thing," he replied, closing 
his hand warmly round her arm for a moment and so 
brmgmg the light back to her eyes. " By the way " 
he continued, " what's the matter with Graham? " 

" I don't know that anything's the matter with Gra- 
ham." 

"I think so. I notice a worried look about him 
that he didn't have at Oxford; that he seems to be 
always on the verge of telling me something, and draw- 
ing back at the last minute. I must make a point of 
findmg out what his trouble is. Peter and I were dis- 
cussing it this morning after breakfast. We're both 
a bit anxious about him. Do you know if your father 
has noticed it ? " 

Father? Oh, he doesn't notice anything. He be- 
lieves that Graham is working very hard and doing 
well. He knows less about what goes on in our house 
than the people who live next door." 

" That's rather a pity. I'm all for complete con- 
fidence between father and son. However, I shall 
play father to Graham for a bit and ^ee what can be 
done for him. He puzzles me. There's a mystery 
wmewhere." 

Something of this mystery was disclosed to Ken- 
yon and Peter that night. After dining them both 



.|i«I 



^M 



Mf 



t1, 



^lll 



w 





i; 



184 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

at the Harvard Club -a place which filled Kenyon 
vVh admiration and surprise _ Graha.n suddenly sug- 
gested, with a queer touch of exc.tement. that they 

should go with him to his apartment, 
snuuiu gvj "What on earth 

"Your apartment? said f eter. wjmi 

do you mean? " 

" Well come and see," said Graham. 

The two elder men looked at each other m amaze- 
men' Kenyon's quick mind ran ahead, but Peter the 
unsophisticaLd, was ^uite unable to understand hat 
in the world Graham wanted an apartmen for when 
he lived at home. They all three left West For r 
fourth Street in silence and walked -mm arm d^wn 
Fifth Avenue as far as Twenty-eighth Street. He e 
fhey turned westward and followed Graham, who wa 
wearing an air of rather sheepish pnde up the s^ps 
Tf an old brown stone house with rather a shabby 

portico. 

" Dismal looking hole," said Peter. 
" Wait! " said Graham, and he put his finger on a 
hell The door opened automatically and he led he 
tty inTo a tantily furnished hall and up three flig ts 
If stairs, whose red carpet was in the autumn of it 
days Drawing up in front of a door on the left of 
i^pasfage heU again, and after a lengthy pause 
was admitted to a small apartment by a colored maid. 
who gave a wide grin of recognition. 

-•Come right in." said Graham. "Lily, take ou 
hats and coats. Don't leave them about in the hall. 
Hang them up and then go and get some chmk. 
Kenyon looked about him curiously. He could ,.ee 



THE CITY 



i8s 



that the place was newly furnished and that everything 
had been chosen by a man. He glanced into the din- 
ing-room. The pictures were sporting and the furni- 
ture mission. He detected no sign of a woman's hand 
anywhere. He began to be puzzled. He had ex- 
pected to find something quite different. But when 
Graham opened the door of the sitting-room and 
said : " Well, here we are, Ita ! " and he saw a small, 
dark, olive-skinned girl rise up from a settee and run 
forward to Graham with a little cry of welcome, he 
knew that his deduction of the situation had been a 
right one. So this was the mystery. 

Still with the same air of sheepish pride, Graham 
said: "Peter, this b. Miss Ita Strabosck. My 
brother, Ita. And this is Nicholas Kenyon, who's a 
great friend of mine. They've just come over from 
England, and so of course I've brought them to see 
you." 

The little girl held out a very shy hand, and 
said : " I am so glad. Eet ees very good of you to 
come." 

In a curiously plain tight frock of some soft black 
material, cut square across her tiny breasts, and leav- 
ing her arms bare almost to the shoulders, she stood, 
with one knee bent, looking )m one man to the other 
with a sort of wistful eagerness to be treated kindly. 
She held a tiny black Teddy bear with red eyes against 
her cheek, like a child. 

Peter, for a reason which he was unable to explain 
to himself, felt a wave of sympathy go over him. He 
not only accepted the girl on her face value, but some- 



'St' Hi 



H 



km 






i86 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

how or other believed her to be younger and more ro- 
mantic than she looked. She seemed to him to have 
stepped out of the pages of some Arabian book — to 
be a little exotic whom Graham must have discovered 
far away from her native hot-house. He liked the 
way in which her thick hair was arranged round her 
face, and he would have sworn that she was without 
guile. 

Not so Kenyon. "Great Scott!" he said to him- 
self. " Here's a little devil for you. Our young 
friend Graham has had his leg pulled. I've seen mos- 
quitoes before, but the poison of this one will take all 
the ingenuity of an expert to counteract." 

He sat down and watched the girl, who threw one 
quick antagonistic glance at him and attached herself 
to Peter, to whom she talked in monosyllables. She 
might only very recently have left a Convent School, 
except that her dog-like worship of Grahair? seemed to 
prove that she owed him a deep debt of gratitude for 
some great service. 

Graham watched her, too, and his expression showed 
Kenyon that even if l.e didn't love her he believed in 
her and was proud of himself. 



1 • 



5 m 



XI 

By a sort of mutual cons nt the three men left the 
apartment in Twenty-eighth Street early. They flid 
not desire to finish the evening at any cabaret or cuib. 
They called the first passing taxicab and drove home, 



THE CITY 



187 



By mutual consent also they never once referred to Ita 
Strabosck, but discussed everything else under the sun. 
Kenyon had never been so useful. With consummate 
tact — but all the while with the picture in his mind of 
t: ? cunning little actress whom they had just left — 
he led the conversation from dancing to baseball and 
from country clubs to women's clothes. Whenever 
the cab passed a strong light Graham made a quick, 
examining glance at Peter's face. He knew old Peter 
as well as Peter knew his piano, and he was quite well 
aware of the fact that altliough his brother laughed a 
good deal at Kenyon's quaint turn of phrase he was 
upset at what he had seen. 

It was just after eleven o'clock when they went into 
the smoking-room of the house in Fifty-second Street. 
Mrs. Guthrie and Ethel had gone to bed. Belle had 
not returned from a theatre party. The Doctor was 
at work in his laboratory. He heard the boys come 
in. The sound of their voices made him raise his head 
eagerly. He even half-rose from his chair in a desire 
to join them and hear them talk, and laugh with them 
and get from them some of that sense of youth which 
they exuded so pleasantly, but his terrible shyness got 
the better of him once more and he returned to his ex- 
periments. How ironical it was that with complete 
unconsciousness he was leaving it to such a man as 
Nicholas Kenyon to play father to his second son, who 
had never in his short life needed a real father so 
badly. 

For some little time — smoking a good cigar with 
ccanplete appreciation — Kenyon continued to giv? 



'■ k 



.< I 



i88 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



!'i 



if 



h it 






< •[* 



forth his impressions of New York so far as he knew 
it. He was especially amusing in his description of 
the effect upon him of the first sight of the Great 
White Way. Then, all of a sudden, there came one of 
those strange pauses. It was Peter who broke the 
silence. " Graham, old boy," he said, " tell us about 
it. What does it all mean ? Good Lord ! you're only 
twenty- four. Are you married?" 

Before Graham could reply, Kenyon sent out a scoff- 
ing lau^h. "Married! Is he married?" he cried. 
" My good old grandfather's ghost, Peter! But how 
indescribably green you are. Hang me if you're 
not like a sort of Peter Pan! You'v- passed through 
Harvard and O.xford with a skin over your eyes. 
Its all very beautiful, very commerJable — and what 
Belle would call 'very dear' of you — and all that 
sort of thing, but somehow you make me feel that 
I've got to go through life with you in the capacity 
of the sort of guide one hires in Paris — the human 
Baedeker." 

" But if Graham hasn't married that poor girl," said 
Peter, bluntly, "what's he doing with her?" 

Graham sprang to his feet and began to walk about 
the room. All about his tall, slight, well-built T^'ure 
there was a curious nervousness and excitement. Even 
in the carefully subdued light of the room it was plain 
to see that his face was rather haggard and drawn. 
The boy looked years older than Peter. "I'll start 
off," he said, " by giving you fellows my word of 
honor that what I'm going to tell you is the truth. I 
have to begin like thij because if either of you were 



THE CITY 



189 



to tell me this story I don't think I should be able to 
believe it. Some time ago I was .akcn — I foiRct by 
whom — to a pestilential but rather amusing place in 
Fortieth Street. Ifs a huge studio run b^' a woman 
who calls herself Papowsky. It's what you. Xick, 
would call the last word in supercffcteness. Ita Stra- 
bosck was one of the girls. I liked her at once. I 
didn't fall in love with her, but she appealed to nic an.l 
It was simply to see her that I went there several times. 
I knew the place was pretty rotten and I didn't cotton 
)n to the people who were there or the thing; they did 
I even knew that the police had their eyes en it, but 
I liked it all the more because of tliat. It gave it a 
sort of zest, like absinthe in whiskey." 
" Quite : " said Kenyon. " Fire away ! " 
" The last time I went there, Ita took me into a cor- 
ner, told me that she was never allowed out of the 
place and was a sort of White Slave, and begged me 
to take her away. I don't think I shall ever forget the 
sight of that poor little wretch trembling and -baking 
It was pretty bad. Well, I took her away. I g„t her 
out by a fire-escape when nobody was watching us. 
Dodged through a window of a restaurant on the first 
floor, and so out into the street. It was very tricky 
work. The day after I took the apartment that you 
came to to-night, furnished it, and there Ita has been 
ever since. I go there nearly e\ery night until the 
small hours. She's happy now and safe and I don't 
regret it. She hated the place and the thin?, she had 
been forced to do and nothing will make- i^e believe 
that she was bad. She was just a victim — that's all. 



■im 




190 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

And if I have to go without things I don't care so long 
as she has all she needs. That's the story. What 
d'vou think of it? " 

Peter got up. went o\er to his brother and held out 
his hand silently. With a rather pathetic expression 
of gratitude in his eyes, Graham took it and held it 
tight. "That's like you. Peter," he said, a little 

huskily. 

Kenyon made no .Tiovement. He looked with a 
pitying smile at the two boys as they stood eye to eye. 
The whole thing sounded to him like a fairy tale and 
for a moment he wondered whether Graham was not 
endeavoring to obtain their sympathy under false pre- 
tences. Then he made up his mind that Graham — 
like the man with whom he had lived at Oxford — 
was green ^'so, for all that he had knocked about in 
New York for two years. Not from any kindness of 
heart, b.;t simply because he wanted to use Graham 
as a means of introducing him to the young male 
wealthy set of the city, he determined to get him out 
somehow or other of this disastrous entanglement. 
He would however go to work tactfully without al- 
lowing Graham to think that he had made a complete 
fool of himself. He knew that if he wounded this boy's 
vanity and brought him down from his heroic pedestal 
he would set his teeth, put his back to the wall and re- 
fuse to be assisted. With keen insight he could see 
that this incident was likely to injure the usefulness of 
his visit to America. 

"Urn!" he said. "It's a pitiful story, Graham. 
You behaved devilish well, old boy. Not many men 



THE CITY 



-M 



191 



would have acted so quickly and so unselfishly. Now, 
sit down and tell me a few things." 

Gladly enough Graham did so, heaving a great ~,igh 
lie was glad that he had made a clear breast of all 
this. He was too young to keep it a secret. He 
wanted .syiTi„athy urgently and a little human help. 
Peter loadcl and lit a pipe and drew his chair into the 
group. 

"This girl Ita What's-her-name loves you of 
course?" 

Graham nodded. 

" Anyone could see that,'" said Peter. 

"But she'd been in that studio .some time before 
you came along, I take it.— I mean she'd been any- 
body's property for the asking? " 

Graham shuddered. "I hate to think so," he 
said. 

Peter kicked the lef, of the nearest chair. 
" How d'you feel ? " asked Kenyon. 
" Awfully sorry for her," said Graham. 
"Yes, of course. What I mean is, are voti all 
light?" 

Graham looked puzzled. " I find it rather difficult 
to pay for everything," he said, " especially as I've 
been damned unlucky lately." 

The man of the world involuntarily raised his eye- 
brows. "Good Lord!" he said to 'himself. "And 
this boy is the son of a specialist. Blind — blind ! " 
Then he spoke aloud, passing on to another point. 
" How long do you think it is incumbent u—i you to 
make yourself the guardian of this girl ; 






:1| 



m 



fill! 



192 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

Graham shrugged his shoulders. " She comes from 
Poland. Her father and mother are dead and she has 
no one to look after her." 
" I'll help you," said Peter. 

That was exactly what Kenyon didn't want. He 
got up, went over to the tahle and mixed a drink. 
" Potter off to Ijcd, Graham, old boy," he said. " Get 
a good night's rest. You need it. We'll go further 
into the matter in a day or two. It requires serious 
consideration, .\nyway, I congratulate you. You're 
a bit of a knight, and you've my complete admiration." 
He led the boy to the door, patted him on the shoulder 
and got ri<l of him. Then he returned to Peter, whose 
face showed that he was laboring I'nder many conflict- 
ing emotions. 

" Nick," he said, " he's only twenty-four — just 
making a beginning. He did the only thing he could 
do under the circumstances, but,— but what would 
father say ? " 

" I don't think it's a question as to what your father 
would say," said Kenyon. " If I know anything, the 
\/ay to put it is what can your father do? Of all men 
in the city he's the one who could be most useful in 
this peculiar mess-up— Peter, you and I have got 
to get that boy out of this, otherwise " 

" Otherwise what? " 

" Otherwise — quite shortly — the police are likely 
to fish out of the river the dead body of a promising 
lad of twenty- four, and there'll be guat grief in this 
house." 

" What d'you mean ? " 



THE CITY 



193 



" Exactly what I say. That girls a liar, a cheat 
and a fraud." 

" I don't believe joii." 

" I don't care whether you l)elieve me or not. She's 
rotten from head to foot. She'.s as easy to read as an 
advertisement. She's taking advantage of a fellow 
who's as unsuspicious as you are. You're both green, 
— green, I tell you, — as green as grass." 

" I'd rather be green," cried Peter, hotly, " than go 
through life with your rotten skepticism." 

"Would you? You talk like an infant. Graham 
will want to marry some day,— and then what ? Good 
Heavens! Hasn't anybody taken the trouble to tell 
you two any of the facts of life' You are neither of 
you fit to be allowed out in the streets without a nurse. 
It's appalling. Skeptical, you call me. You're blind, 
I tell you. Blind ! So's the old man in the next roo^n. 
There's an ugly shadow over this house, i'eter, a- 
sure as you're alive. Don't stand there glaring Pt mt. 
I'm talking facts. If you've got any regard for your 
brother and his health and his future; if you want to 
save your mother from unutterable suffering and your 
father from a hideous awakening, don't talk any fur- 
ther drivel to me, but make up your mind that the 
girl, Ita Strasbosck. has it in lier power to turn Graham 
into a suicide. She's a liar — a liar and a trickster and 
a menace — and I'll make it my business to prove it to 
you and Graham." 
" You can't." 

" Can't I ? We'll see about that. And you've got 
to help me. We've got to make Graham see that he 



I,i 



!i"!- 



194 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

must shake her off at once,— at once, I tell you. The 
alternative you know." 

Peter got up and strode about the room. He was 
worried and anxious. He didn't, unfortunately, fully 
appreciate the grivity of this affair, because, as Ken- 
yon had said so tauntingly, he was a child in such mat- 
ters. But what he did appreciate was that his only 
brother had done something, however sympathetic the 
moti'-e, which might have far-reaching consequences 
and which did away with tlie possibility of his going, 
as it was Peter's determmation to go, clean and 
straight to a good girl. 

He turned to Kenyon, who had made himself com- 
fortable. " I'll help you > -r all I'm worth, Nick," he 
said. 

" Right," said Kenyon. " I'll think out a line of ac- 
tion and let you know to-morrow. There's no time to 
be lost." 



XII 



It - 



Kenyon got rid of Peter, too. 

Apart from the fact that he was going to wait up 
for Belle, he wanted to be alone. He was angry, it 
was just like his bad luck to come all the way to 
America and find that the two men who had it in their 
power to be of substantial use to him were both fully 
occupied, — one being hopelessly in love, the other in 
money trouble and in what he recognized as a difficult 
and even dangerous position. With characteristic 
selfishness he resented these things. They made it 



lil'^ i 



THE CITY 



195 



necessary for him to exercise his brain,— not for him- 
self—which was his idea of the whole art of living 
— but for others. There were other things that he 
resented also. One was the fact that Peter was what 
he called a damned child. He had no admiration what- 
ever for his friend's absolute determination lo look- 
only at the clean things of life. A thousand time- 
since they had shared the same rooms he had cursetl 
Peter because of his sweeping refusal to discuss a 
question which he knew to be of vital and far-reacliing 
importance. At these times Peter had alwavs said 
something like this: " My dear Nick, I'm no't going 
to be a doctor, a woman-hunter, or a sloppy man about 
town. I don't want to know any details whatever of 
the things which stir up other men's curiosity I've 
no room in my brain for them. Thev don't amuse me 
or interest me. I'm jolly well going to remain a 
damned child, whether you like it or not. so vou may 
chuck trying to drag me into these midnight discus- 
sions of yours with the men who hang nudes all over 
their walls and gloat over filthy little French 
books." 

And then there was Graham. He, like untold hun- 
dreds of his type, had a certain amount of precocity, 
but no knowledge. He had merelv peeked at the truth 
of things through a chink. He liad looked at li fe with 
the salacious eyes of a Peeping Tom. And what was 
the result? Worse than total ignorance. Deep down 
m whatever soul he had, Nicholas Kenyon honestly 
and truly believed in friendship between father and 
son. He knew — none better — because it was his 



f'' 



ii 



i I 



196 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

business to observe, that a young man was frightfully 
and terribly handicapped who went out into the world 
unwarned, unadvised and uninitiated. He had often 
come across men like Peter and Graham whose lives 
had been absolutely ruined at the very outset for the 
reason that their fathers had either been too cowardly 
or too indifferent to give them the benefit of their own 
experience and early troubles. In fact, most of the 
men he knew — and he knew a great many — had 
been left to discover the essential truths and facts for 
themselves. The inevitable end of it was that they 
made their discoveries too late. 

Fate certainly must have had a very grim amuse- 
ment in watching Nicholas Kenyon as he walked up 
and down the library of Dr. Hunter Guthrie's house 
that night, blazing at the delinquencies of fathers. 
Nevertheless, Kenyon had the right to be indignant, 
whether his reasons for being so sprang out of his 
selfishness or not. His own father was an unscrupu- 
lous, unserious man, that was true, but at any rate he 
had given his son a human chance. He could take it 
or leave it as he liked. And when Kenyon, piecing 
together all that he had heard of Dr. Guthrie from 
Peter, from Graham and from Belle, added all that 
to the very obvious fact that these two boys were out 
in the world with blind eyes, he burst into a scoffing 
laugh. In his mind's eye he could see the excellent 
and distinguished Doctor rounding his back over ex- 
periments for the benefit of humanity, while he utterly 
neglected to give two of the human beings for whom 
he was responsible the few words of advice which 



THE CITY ,37 

would ^render it unnecessary for the,n to becon^e his 
If Kenyon had been a more generous man - if in 
ness he would have gone at that very moment 

-" t'o" hit"'' '°, '';,'°°^ °^ '""^ Doctors'labo rZy 
.nto that wonderful room -sat down opposite the 
man who spent hi. life i„ it with such noble concent a 

h:;xsr^:ni^rif"7°^--"- 

take an opportunity Teh would reta"b^Sr ^ 
corchng angel to make one very good entry on t J 
blank credu side of his account, and concentrated upon 
a way m wh.ch he could use Peter and Graham fo7his 

tore with wo jobs," as he called them -one to 
queer Peter's engagement with Betty, in order tha l^e 

to l.ft Graham out of his ghastly entanglement for 

he same purpose. Bringing himself up to that po n 

d relymg upon his ingenuit, vith complete confi 

ten^d wTa" T' '™"'^ '^°''''' '^'^h-ball and 

light I?ep '" ""°""' °^ '"^""^^^ f°^ B^"-'« 

He hadn't long to wait. He had just gone into the 

..y ghted hall with the intention of 'getting Lm 

BeHHeltJr in.°°"^^' '''''' ''' '^^ ^^^^^ ^^ 

" You keep nice hours," he said 

Belle had been dancing. Her cheeks were glowing 
and her eyes bright. She had never looked so aU 



I 



Mil ^ 



H 1«i 



198 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

conqueiingly youthful or so imbued with the joy of 
Hfe. She came across to him like a young goddess of 
the forest, with the wild beauty and that suggestion of 
unrestraint which always made Kenyon's blood run 
quickly. 

"Have you waited for me?" she asked. "How 
perfectly adorable of you." 

" What have you been doing? " 
"Oh, the usual things — dinner, theatre, danc- 
ing." 

Kenyon went nearer and put his hands on her arms, 
hotly. " Curse those men ! " he said. 
"What men?" 

"The men who've been holding you to-night. 
Why have I come over? Can't you scratch these 
engagements and wait for me? I'm not going to 
share you with every Tom, Dick and Harry in this 

place." 

A feeling of triumph came to Belle — a new feel- 
ing—because hitherto this man's attitude had been 
that of master. " You're jealous! " she cried. 

Kenyon turned away sharply. For once he was not 
playing with this girl for the sport of the thing, just 
to see what she would say and do in order to pass away 
the time. The whole evening had tended to upset his 
calculations and plans. He had found himself thrown 
suddenly into a position of responsibility,— a state 
that he avoided with rare and consummate agihty. 
And now came Belle, radiant and high-spirited, from 
an evening spent with other men,— more beautiful and 
desirable than he had ever seen her look. 



THE CITY 



199 



him back. " You are jealous, 



you 



Belle turned 
arc." 

" Oh, good Lord, no," said Kenyon, with his most 

bored drawl. " Why should I be? After all it isn't 

for me to care what you do, is it ? It's a large world 

and there's plenty of room for both of us — what?" 

He walked away. 

Triumph blazed in Belle's heart. Slie saw in Ken- 
yon's eyes that he was saying the very opposite of the 
thoughts that aere in his mind. She almost shouted 
with joy. She had longed to see into the heart of this 
man who was under such complete and aggravating 
self-comrol,— even to hurt him to obtain a big, spon- 
taneous outburst of emotiofi from him. She loved 
him desperately, indiscreetly — far too well for her 
peace of mind — and she urgently needed some 
answering sparks of fire. 

She didn't move. She stood with her cloak thrown 
back, her chin held high and the light falling on her 
dark hair and white flesh. This was her moment. 
She would seize it. 

" Yes, there is plenty of room for us both," she 
said, " and the fact that I shall go on dancing with 
other men needn't inconvenience you in the least. I 
don't suppose that we shall even set each other in the 
crowd. There are many men who'll give their ears 
to dance with me,— I mean men who can dance, not 
bored Englishmen." 

She drew blood. Kenyon wfit across to her 
quickly. "How dare you talk to me like that! 
Curse ihese men and their ears. Who's brought me 



!•! •ii ; 



200 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

to this country? You know I came for you,— you 
know it. I CI" jealous — as jealous as the devil. 
And if ever you let another man put his arms round 
you I'll smash his face." He put out his hot hands to 
catch her. 

But, with a little teasing laugh. Belle dodged and 
flitted into the library. The spirit of coquettishness 
was awake in her. She had the upper hand now and 
ri small account to render for missed mails, and an 
appearance of being too sure. She threw off her cloak 
and stood with her back to the fireplace, looking like 
one of Romney's pictures of Lady Hamilton come 

to life. 

Ken jn strode in after her, all stirred by her beauty. 
"In future," he said, "you dance with me. You 
understand? " 

Belle raised her eyebrows and then bowed pro- 
foundly. " As you say, O my master ! " And then 
she held out her arms with a sudden delicious abandon. 
" Take me, then. Let's dance all the way through 

life." 

Kenyon caught her, and all about the room these 
two went, moving together in perfect unison, cheek 
to cheek, until almost breathless Belle broke into a 
little laugh, stopped singing, and said: "The band ^ 
tired." But Kenyon held her tighter and closer ami 
kissed her lips again and again and again. 

With a little touch of warning in its tone the clock 
on the mantel-piece presently struck two, and lielle 
freed herself and straightened her hair with a rather 
uncertain hand. " I mu.st go now," she said breath- 



THE CITY 201 

lessly. •' Father may be working late. Supposing he 
came through this room ? " 

" Serve him right," said Kenyon. 

They went upstairs together on tip-toe, and hahed 
for a moment on the thresliold of Belle's bed-room 
Through the half-open door Kenyon saw the glow of 
yellow light on the dressing-uble, and the corner of 
a virginal bed. Once more he kissed her and then 
breathing hard, went to his own room, stood in the 
darkness for a moment, and thanked his lucky star 
for the gift of Belle. 



XIII 

The following afternoon, Peter, Kenyon and Belle 
went to see Ranken Townsend's pictures and to have 
tea with Betty. The little party was a great success, 
x^eter and the artist got on splendidly together, which 
filled Betty with joy and gladness, and Kenyon had 
added to the general smoothness and pleasantness by 
offering extremely intelligent and enthusiastic criticism 
of the canvasses that were shown to him, drawing 
subtle comparisons between them and those of Rey- 
nolds and Gainsborough. Like all true artists, Town- 
send was a humble man and unsuspicious. He be- 
lieved, in the manner of all good workers, that he had 
yet to find himself, although he had met with uncom- 
mon success. He was, therefore, much heartened and 
warmed by the remarks of one who, although young, 
evidently knew of what he was talking and proved 
himself to be something of a judge. When Kenyon 




i * 



302 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

received a cordial invitation to come again to the 
studio he solidified the good impression that he had 
made by saying that he would be honoured and de- 
lighted. 

There had been a sharp shower during tea, but the 
sky had cleared when they left Gramercy Park, taking 
Betty with them, and so they started out to walk 
home. 

Belle and Betty went on in front, arm in arm, and 
the two friends followed. This suited Kenyon ex- 
actly. He had laid his plan and had something to say 
to Peter. 

Belle was very happy, and she showed it.^ She 
looked round at Betty with her eyes dancing. " I can 
see that you're dying to ask me something," she said. 
" But don't. You and I don't have to ask each other 
questions. We've always told each other everything, 
and we always will." 

" Belle, you're en-ga " 

" S-s-s-h ! Don't mention the word." 
"Why?" 

" Well, we've been talking this afternoon and Nich- 
olas says', and I think he's right — though I wish he 
weren't — that he doesn't want to go to father until 
he's been here longer and has made up his mind what 
he's going to do. You see, he's not well off. He's 
got to work,— although I can't fancy Nicholas work- 
ing,— and so we're not going to be really engaged 
for a few months. Meantime, he's going to look 
round and find something to do. That'll be easy. 
You don't know how clever he is,— not merely clever 



THE CITY 



203 



— a monkey can be clever, or a conjurer — the word 
I meant to use was 'able.' Aren't yoi' glad? Isn't 
It splendid ? " 

" Oh, my dear," said Betty, " wouldn't it be per- 
fectly wonderful if we could be married on the same 

day? Of course I've seen it coming " 

Belle laughed. " I knew you'd say that. Person- 
ally I didn't see it coming. After we'd left Oxford 
I began to think that Nicholas had only been flirting 
with me. He wrote such curious, aloof little letters 
and very few cf them. They might have been written 
by an epigramist to his maiden aunt; but last night 
— well, last night made everything different, and this 
afternoon we've had a long talk. Of course I wish 
we were going to be openly and properly engaged, but 
I m very happy and so I don't grumble." 

"As the future Countess of Shropshire, I wonder 
whether you will ever give a little back room in vour 
beautiful English place to the young American lawyer 
and his wife! " 

" Betty, I swear to you that x don't care a dime 
about all that now,— I mean the title and the place 
It's just Nicholas that I want — Nicholas, and no one 
else. I wouldn't care if he were what he calls a 
'bounder' or a 'townee.' My dear, I'm mad about 
him — just mad." 

_ "Isn't everything as right as Truth?" said Betty. 
The more I see Peter the more I love him. He's — 
well, he's a man, and he's mine. He's mine for an- 
other reason, and that's because he's always going to 
be a boy, and I'm here to look after him. He'll need 



I-,;,, 



if 



r 



204 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

me. And I must have him need me, too, because I 
need to be needed. Do you understand ? " 

Belle nodded. " You're the born mother, my dear," 
she said, " whereas, I'm,— well, not. I want love — 
just love. I'll give everything I've got in the world 
for that — everything. Love and excitement and 
movement,— to go from place to place meeting new 
people, hearing new languages, seeing new types, liv- 
ing bigly and broadly, being consulted by a man who's 
brilliant and far-seeing,— that's what I need. That's 
mv idea of life. Ah-h ! " She shot out a deep breath 
arid threw her chin up as though to challenge argu- 
ment. 

Betty vfatched her with admiration. She had never 
looked so unusual, so exhilarated, so fine. All about 
her there was the very essence of youth and courage 
and health. There was a glow in her white skin that 
was the mere reflection of the f^re that was alight in 
her heart. Given happiness this girl would burst into 
the most fragrant blossoming and gleam among her 
sisters like a rose in a pansy bed. Given pain and dis- 
illusion she had it in her to fling rules, observances, 
caution, common sense and even self-respect to the 
four winds and go with all possible speed to the 

devil. 

■ "What would have happened to us both if we 
hadn't gone to Oxford? " asked Betty, with an almost 
comical touch of gravity. "Think! I should be 
doomed to be a little old maid, with nothing but an 
even smaller dog to keep in order, and as for 
you " 



THE CITY 



aos 



"I? Don't let's talk about it. I should have gone 
top-pace through several years and then, with thirty 
looming ahead, married a nice safe man with oodles 
of money who would spend his life following me 
round. Thank Heaven, I shall never be the centre 
of that ghastly picture ! " 

And so they went on, these two young things, open- 
mg up their hearts to each other as they walked home 
and flying oflf at all manner of feminine tangents. 

Kenyon, perfectly satisfied with his talk" to Belle, 
whom he had secured without binding himself to any- 
thing definite, was wearing white spats, and so he 
picked his way across the wet streets like a cat on 
hot bricks. For several blocks he permitteJ Peter to 
talk about Betty. His affectation of interest and sym- 
pathy was not so well done as usual. Pie had deter- 
mined, with a sort of profes.sional jealousy, not to 
allow Ita Strabosck to trade on Graham's credulity 
any longer. All his thoughts were concentrated on 
his plan to smash up that burlesque arrangement as he 
inwardly called it. If anyone were to make use 
of Graham he intended to be that one. The girl at 
present a humble member of the great army of para- 
sites in which he held a commission, must be cleared 
out. Sue was inconveniently in the way. 

When Peter was obliged to stop for breath Ken- 
yon jumped in. "Look here!" he said. "You're 
coming with me to the shrine of the pernicious Pa- 
powsky to-night." 

" You mean on Graham's business ? " asked Peter. 
"Is i' absolrVly necessary to go to that place? " 



im 



306 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

" Absolutely. You'll see why, if everything works 
as I think it will, when we get there." 
" Right. And how alraut Graham?" 
" You and Graham are going to have dinner with 
me at Sherry's. I shall have to see that he has half 
a bottle too much champagne. That'll make him care- 
less and put a bit of devil into him. and when I sug- 
gest that lie shall take us to Papowsky's, he will jump 
at the notion. He's awful keen to show us what a 
blood he is. Once he gets us inside the rest will 

follow." , . ^ 

" I see. By Jove, I shall be thundermg glad when 
Graham's plucked out of this wretched mess. The 
only thing is I'm booked to dine with Mr. Townsend 
at his club to-night." 

" It can't be done," said Kenyon. " Directlv you get 
home you must telephone. Say that an urget.c mat- 
ter has just cropped up and beg to be excused. Call 
it business — call it anything you like — but get out 

of it." 

"All right!" said Peter. "I'm heart and soul 
with you, old boy. I'm very grateful for all the 
trouble you're taking. You always were a good 

chap." . 

" My dear Peter, add to my possession of the ordi- 
nary number of senses one that is almost as rare as 
the Dodo,— the sense of gratitude. Hello! Here s 
some of the family in the carl" 

They had halted on the steps of the Doctor's house 
as Mrs. Guthrie and Ethel were driven up. Kenyon 
sprang forward, opened the door and handed the 



THE CITY 



to; 



ladies out with an air that Raleigh himself would have 
found commendable. 

" Blood tells," said Belle, who watched from the top 
step, with a proud smile. 

" Ves," said Betty, " but I prefer muscle. Look! ■' 

The pavement was uneven in front of the house 
and the rain had made a little pool. So Peter picked 
his mother up, as though she were as light as a bunch 
of feathers, and carried her into the house. 

" My dearest big boy ! " she said. 

"Darling little Mum! " said Peter. 



XIV 

Kenyon, turned out as excellently as usual, led the 
way into the dining-room at Sherry's. It was a quar- 
ter to eight. Every other table was occupied. The 
large room was too warm and was filled with the con- 
glomerate aromas of food. Peter sat on the right of 
his host and Graham on the le't. Both men were 
quiet and distrait,— Peter because he was an.xious, 
Graham for the reason that he had not been able to 
leave behind him the carking worries that now fell 
daily to his lot. Kenyon, on the contrary, was in his 
best form, and even a little excited. Apart from the 
fact that he rather liked having something to do that 
would prove his knowledge of life and the accuracy 
of his powers of psychology, he was looking forward 
to be amused with what went on in the studio-apart- 
ment of the Papowsky. 

"By Jove!" he said, looking around and arrang- 



»■] 



Ill; 



208 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

ing his tie over the points of his collar with expert 
fingers, — a .ni ig which Graham immediately pro- 
ceeded to do also, — " this place has a quite distinct 
atmosphere. Don't you think so, Peter?" 

"Has it?" 

" One would, I see, choose it for a trying and dull- 
bright dinner with a prospective mother-in-law or with 
some dear thing, safely married, with whom one had 
once rashly imagined one's self to be in love. Waiter, 
the wine list ! " 

Graham laughed. 

Kenyon, scoring his first point, continued airily. 
" For my part, I shall make a poi.jt of dining here one 
night with an alluring young thing fresh from the 
romantic quietude of a Convent School. I feel that 
these discreet lights and reserved colours will give a 
certain amount of weight and even solemnity to my 
careful flattery— A large bottle of Perrier Jouet 
'02, and be sparing with the ice. Peter, I think you'll 
find that this caviare gives many points to the tired 
stuff that used to be palmed off on us at Buol's and 
other undergraduate places of puerile riotousness." 

The linner, which Kenyon had ordered with becom- 
ing care, would have satisfied the epicureanism of a 
Russian aristocrat. During all its courses the host 
kept up a running fire of anecdote which quickly made 
the table a merry one. He also saw to it that Graham's 
glass was never empty. They sat laughing, smoking 
and drinking Creme Yvette until they were the last 
people in the room e,\cept for an old bloated man and 
a very young Hebrew girl. The band, which had 



THE CITY 



209 



m X d ragtme .n ' -:n„,ina...;, -vith Italian opera and 
Aus r.an waltzes, an.j p)ayed .hem all equaHy well, 
w nt off to acquir. ,h. s.con. wind and the relaxed 
muscles necessary ,or a lat.r performance, and the 
vaiters had long s.nce rearranged the table for supper 
l^efore kenyon suggested adjourning to a club for 
■ Tame of b. Ihards whid, would amuse them until it 
« .s fme to begin the business of the evening. So 
*ey walked round to the Harvard Club, anS here 
ieter-the only one of the party who was completely 
his own master — became host 

B^thTJ^^'l ""'" " ""'^ '^°'' °f '-«'^- o'clock. 
By th,s t.me, havmg been additionally primed up with 
one or two Scotch whiskeys. Graham was ready for 
nnythmg and it was then that Kenyon suggested that 
he should take them to the famous studio Gral am 
jumped at the idea, falling, as Kenyon knew that he 
would, mto the little trap set for him. "We're chil! 
tn?h '"/«"' '''"^'' ^'''^'"''' ^' '^'"^' ^-'th a subtle 
u.th the hd off I m most frightfully keen to see this 
ace and .fl be great fun for you, duly protected, to 
find out whether the Papowsky has discovered whether 
.vou were the Knight Errant who rescued one of her 
v.ctims. Romance, old boy- romance with a big R " 
And so Graham, more than a little unsteady and with 
uproarious laughter, led the way. 

When they arrived at the studio-apartment in For- 

■eth Street they found the hall filled with people 

It happened that Papowsky was giving an Egvptkn 

mght and nearly all of the habuL were i„%7c^ 



It: ii ; 



fiAi'^ii 



■ :> 



'!»! 



2IO THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

priate costumes. With the cunning of her species this 
woman knew very well that few things appeal so 
strongly to a certain type of men and women as dress- 
ing up, — which generally means undressing. The 
Japanese servant who took their hats and coat" wel- 
comed Graham with oily and deferential cordiality. 
" We are having a big night, sir," he said, with the 
peculiar sibilation of his kind and with his broad, flat 
hands clasped together. " It is Madame's birthday, 
sir. Yes, sir. You and the gentlemen will enjoy it 
very much." 

Peter and Kenyon followed Graham into the studio. 
Their curiosity, already stirred by the sight of the men 
and women in the hall, was added to by the Rembrandt 
effect of the high, wide room, whose darkness was 
only touched here and there by curious faint lights. 
The buzz of voices everywhere and little bursts of 
laughter proved that there were many people present. 
As they went in, a powerful lime-light was suddenly 
focused on the centre of the room and into this slid 
a string of young, small-breasted, round-limbed girls. 
Led by one who contorted herself in what was sup- 
posedly the Egyptian manner, they moved to and fro 
with bent knees and angular gestures, and rigid pro- 
files. Music came out of the darkness,— the music 
of a string band with cymbals. 

" Good Lord! " said Kenyon. " What an amazing 
mixture of exotic stinks!" 

"Look out for your money," said Peter, with a 
touch of blunt materialism. 

Graham made for an unoccupied alcove, in which 



THE CITY 211 

there was a flabby di\an. On this they all three sat 
down and began to peer about. A few vards away 
from them they presently made out an 'astonishing 
group of young men dressed as Egyptians. They 
were sitting in affectionate closeness, simpering and 
tmeiing togcLher. On the other side they gradually 
discerned an overwhelmingly fat, elderly woman hold- 
ing a kmd of Court. She was almost enveloped in 
pearls. Otherwise she was scantily hidden. Her feet 
were m sandals. Several mere boys had arranged 
themselves m picturesque attitudes about her and half 
a dozen maidens were grouped round her chair One 
was fanning her with a large yellow leaf. The blue 
light under which Graham Iiad sat listening to the 
whispered appeal of Ita Strabosck fell softly and 
erotically upon them. 

"Circe come to life," said Kenyoa 
" Ugh! I don't quite know how Fm going to pre- 
vent myself from being sick," said Peter. 

" Ah ! but wait a bit," said Graham. " The show 
hasn't begun yet." 

It made a fairly good beginning as he spoke. The 
girls in the circle of light brought their attitudinizing 
to an end and their places were instantly taken by two 
painted men in coloured loin-cloths. To a screaming 
outburst of wild and incoherent music they gave what 
seemed to Kenyon to be a perfect imitation of civet- 
cats at play. They crawled ?Iong on all-fours, sprang 
high into the air, crouched, bounded, whirled round 
each other and finally, amid a roar of applause, rolled 
out of view wrapped in each other's arms. 



212 



THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 




"Um!" said Kenyon. "After just such an ex- 
hibition as that Rome burst into flames." 

There was insistent demand for an encore. The 
performance was repeated with the same gusto and 
relish. The three men saw nothing of it. Just as the 
band burst forth again, Kenyon made a long arm, 
caught the skimpy covering of a girl who was passing 
and drew her into the alcove. 

" Come and cheer us up, Minutia," he said. " We 
feel like lost souls here." 

The girl was willing enough. It was her business 
to cheer. She stood in front of them for a moment 
so that the blue light should show her charms. She 
looked very young and tiny. Fair hair was twisted 
round her head. She wore nothing but a thin, loose 
Egyptian smock, but her small snub nose and impu- 
dent mouth placed her whatever might be her cos- 
tume, on Broadway. "Say! Why are you muts 
dressed like men?" she asked with eager interest. 

" Oh, well," said Kenyon, " we happen to be men ; 
but I swear that we won't advertise the fact." 

The girl greatly enjoyed the remark, but her scream 
of laughter was drowned by the band. Then she 
caught sight of Graham. "Oh, hello, Kid! So 
you've come back." 

Graham n.ide room for her. He rather liked being 
recognized. Kenyon would see that he knew his way 
about. " Yes, htic T am again. It's difficult to get 
the Papowsky dope out of the system." 

" Don't see . hy you should t'-y. It's pretty good 
dope, I guess." She snuggLa herself in between 



THE CITY 213 

Graham and Kenyon, putting an arm round each, 
bhe bent across Kenyon to examine Peter and gave an 
exaggeratedly dramatic cry of surprise and admira- 
tion "My God! It's a giant! Say, dearie, you'd 
be the Kmg of all the pussies, in a skin. All them 
dinky httle love-birds would bop round vour feet and 
chirp. Oh, gosh, you'd make some hit among the 
artists, sure ! " 

"Think so.'" said Peter. He would have given 
a great deal for a pipe at that moment, so that he 
could pufT out great clouds of smoke as a disinfect- 
ant. 

" A gala night," said Graham. 

" Sure. If the police were to make a raid to-night 
-gee, there'd be a fine list of names in to-morrer's 
papers ! " 

"Think they will?" asked Kenyon. "By Jove' 
I wish they would. Think of seeing these people 
=:uffling like frightened rabbits. It would be epoch- 
making." *^ 

The girl turned a keenly interested eye on Kenyon 
and looked him over with unabashable deliberation 

Youve got a funny kind of accent," she said. 

VVhat is it? English?" 

It was the first time that Kenyon had ever been 
accused of speaking with an accent. He was de- 
ighted. It appealed to his alert sense of humour. 
1 le laughed and nodded. 

'•The giant ain't English, is he? Are you 
dearie ? " ■' ' 

" No," said Peter 



' 1) 



It i>i 

h 



I. 






^■" nil 

m 



\A 



214 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

"That's fine. I guess I don't like the English 
much. They always strike me as being like Amer- 
icans, trying hard to be different." 

" You don't dislike me, I hope? That would be a 
very bitter blow," said Kenyon, tweeking her ear. 

•' Oh, you're a comic," she said. " You're all right. 
Is this your first visit?" 

"Yes Have you been here long? Kenyon 
asked the question carelessly, as though to keep the 
ball moving. It was, as a matter of fact, the begm- 
ning of his plan to disillusion Graham. 

•' Oh, I've been in the business ever since it started. 
Ask the kid, he knows. Don't you, kid? " 

" Rather," said Graham. _ 

" I used to be in the chorus, but this is ther life. 
" 1 suppose so," said Kenyon. " Variety, gaiety, 
art — what more can any girl desire ? " 

"Dollars," she said dryly. "And I make more 
here, by a long way." 

" That's good. But,— but don't you get a little fed 
up? I mean it must be hopelessly monotonous to be 
shut up in one place all the time." 

"Don't know whatcher mean. Translate that, 

won't you ? " „ ■. r- u 

" He means never getting out, said Graham. 
" Never getting out! I don't get you, Steve. Me 

and my sister get away after the show, same as any 

"What'" Graham was incredulous. It struck 
him that the girl was lying for reasons of loyalty to 
her employer. He knew better. 



THE CITY 



215 



"Oh, I see!" said Kcnyon, leading her on care- 
fully. " You don't live here, then? " 

"Live here? Of course I don't. I come about ten 
o clock every night and leave anyuherf between tliree 
and four in the morning. Earlier if there's nothing 
doing." 

"Oh, I thought that the girls here are — well, 
held up, kept here all the time,— prisoners, so to 
speak." 

A shrill amused laugh rang out. "Oh, cut it out' 
What's all this dope? Say! you've been reading 
White Slave books. You're bug-house — dippy. 
Why, this is a respectable place, this is. This is the 
house of Art. We're models, that's what we are. 
We're only here for local colour. If we choose to 
make a bit extra on our own, we can." She laughed 
again. It was a good joke. The best that she had 
heard for years. 

Kenyon threw a quick glance at Graham's face. 
He could just see it in the dim light. The boy was 
listening intently — incredulously. So also was 
Peter, who had drawn himself into a corner and was 
hunched up uncomfortably. 

Kenyon began to feel excited. Everything was 
going almost unbelievably well. The girl was so 
frank, so open and obviously spontaneous. It was 
excellent. " Of course you tell us these things," he 
said, voicing what he knew was going silently through 
Graham's mind. " But we know better. We know 
that you, like that poor little girl, Ita Strabosck, are 
watched and not allowed to q^tt away under any cir- 






m 






i ! ! 



i»lr. 



216 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

cutnstances. Now, why not tell us the truth? We 
may be able to help you escape, too." 

Again she laughed. " Oh, say !" she said. What 
are you anyway? Reporters on the trail of a story. 
I'm telling you the truth. Why not? A^/°^It^'T 
Oh ho! She put it all over a boob, she did. bhe s 
ambitious, she is. She was out to find a mut wdiod 
keep her, that was her game. She told us so from 
the first We used to watch her trymg one after an- 
other of the soft ones. But they were wise they 
were But at last some little feller fell for her foreign 
acent and little sobs. She had a fine tale all ready. 
Oh, she's clever. She ought to be on the stage play- 
ing parts. Most of us go round to her place in the 
daytime and have a good time with some of her men 
friends I've not been yet. But from what my sis- 
ter says I wouldn't be a bit surprised if she gets her 
man to marry her. From what she says, he's a senti- 
mental Alick, and, O Gosh! won't she lead him some 

dance!" ,. ,. 

At last Graham broke forth, his face white, his eyes 
blazing and his whole body shaking as though he ha. 
ague. "You're lying!" he shouted. "Every word 
y 've said's a lie!" 

The girl entirely unofTended at this involuntary out- 
burst bent forward and looked at Graham with a new 
gleam of intelligence, amusement and curiosity. 
" My word, I believe you're Mr. Strabosck. I bel,e^e 
you're the boob. Oh, say! come into the light. 1 
guess I must have a look at you." 

Graham got up, stood swaying for a moment a. 



THE CITY 217 

though he had received a blow l3etween the eyes and 
staggered across tlie room and out into the passage 

Now he knows," said Kenyon. "Come on, 
mer. We shall have our work cut to hold him in. 
Ihere was blood in his eyes." Utterly ignoring the 
g.rl, Kenyon „,adc for the door, forced his way 
hrough new arrivals and found Graham utterly sober 

but w.th h.s mouth set dangerously, standing in front 

of the Japanese. " My hat and coat, (,uick ! " he was 

saymg, "or I'll break the place up." 

" Steady, steady," said Kenyon. " We don't want 

a scene here. 

brelk '^"^ ^^ *^'"""''^' ^ "'" ^■°" '°"«l""g'« got to 
The Japanese ducked into the coat-room 
" ^Vhere's Peter? " Graham looked back expecting 
to see his brother's head and shoulders above the 
crowd. There was no sign of him. 

By accident the ' me-light which had been suddenly 
turned on for a new performance fell on Peter as he 
was marching towards the door of the studio In- 
stantly he found himself surrounded bv half a dozen 
good-natured men who had all taken a 'little too much 
tr. drmk. They, like the other people present, were in 
f.gyptian clothes and obviously glad to see in Peter 
a healthy normal specimen of humanity. 

"Oh, hello, brother, where are you off to?" asked 
one. 

" Out ! " said Peter shortly. 

"I'll be darned if you are. Come and have a 
drink ! 






2i8 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

" No, thanks, I've other things to do." 

" Oh, rot! Be a sport and stay and help us to stir 
things up. Come on. now ! " 

Peter tried to push his way through. " Please get 
out of the way," he said. 

But a jovial red-headed fcl'ow got into it. 
" You're staying, if I have to mal<e you." 

Something snappe.l in Peter's brain. Before he 
could control himself he bent down and picked up the 
man bv the scruff of his neck and the cloth that was 
wound round his middle and heaved him over the heads 
of the crowd into a divan, and then hitting out right 
and left rle .-1 a path to the door, leaving chaos and 
bleeding noses behind iiim. Without waiting to ^'ct 
his hat and coat he made a dash for the elevator, 
caught it just as it was about to des.^end and went 
down to the main floor dishevelled and panting. 

Out in the street he saw Kenyon trying to put 
Graham into a taxicab. Kenyon saw him and called 
out. " Come on, or Papowsky will make it hot for 

us." . , , . 

On hir way home from a late evening at one of his 
clubs, Ranken Townsend caught the name Papowsky, 
whose evil reputation had come to his ears. He 
threw a quick glance at the men who were leaving her 
place and saw that one of them was Peter. He drew 
up and stoo<l in front of the man in whom he thought 
he had recognized cleanness and excellence and told 
himself that he was utterly mistaken. 

" So this was your precious business engagement, 
he said, with icy comempt. " Well, I don't give my 



THE CITY 



319 



daughter to a man who shares her u-ith women like 
1 apowsky, so you may consider yourself free. Good 

And the smile that turned up the corners of Ken- 
yon s mouth had in it the epitome of triumph. All 
along the hne I,e had won. All along the line 

Peter watched the tall .lisappearin^ figure. He felt 
as though he had been kicked in the mouth. 



PART THREE 

LIFE 



I l-H 






Ih 



That night was one of the most extraordinary that 
Peter ever spent. Although he was smarting under 
the terrible mjustice of Ranken Townsend's few but 
very definite words, and felt like a man who had sud- 
denly come up to an abyss, he took Graham in hand 
and devoted himself, with all the tenderness of a 
woman, to this poor boy. 

All the way home in the cab Graham had been more 
or less held down by Kenyon and his brother. His 
brain was in a wild chaos. The realization that he 
had been tricked and made a fool of hit him hard In 
his first great .<ush of anger he was filled with an over- 
whelming desire to go to the apartment in which he 
had placed Ita Strabosck and smash it up. He wanted 
to have the satisfaction of breaking and ripping apart 
every piece of furniture that he had bought to make 
he- comfortable and happy, and make an absolute 
shambles of the place. He wanted also to order that 
gill lit into the street. At that moment he no longer 
cared what happened to her or where she went. His 
vanity had received its first rude shock. All the way 
home he shouted at the top of his voice and struggled 
to get away from the men who were looking after 
him. It took all Peter's strength to hold him tight 
It was by no means a good sight to see this young 






'!<<! 



5 ii 



m 



224 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

man, who only half an hour before had been exhila- 
rated by champagne and the feeling that he was really 
of some account as a man of the world, reduced to a 
condition of utter weariness by his violent outbursts. 
At first he absolutely refused to enter the house and 
insisted upon walking up and down the street. Fi- 
nally, by making an appeal to his brother's affection, 
Peter persuaded him to go in quietly and up to his 
own room. There, pale and exhausted and entirely 
out of spirits, Graham turned quickly on his brother. 
" Keep Kenyon out," he said. " For God's sake, keep 
Kenyonout! I want yow." 

Kenyon heard these words and smiled to himself, 
nodded to Peter, and went downstairs again to make 
himself comfortable in the library and have a final 
cigarette before going to bed. He had every reason 
for self -congratulation. Graham was free,— there 
was no doubt about that,— and it looked as though 
Peter also would now be able to be made useful again. 
Luck certainly had been on his side that night. 

It was not much after one o'clock when Peter shut 
the door of Graham's bed-roo.n. From then on- 
wards he turned himself into a sort of nurse, doing 
his best to concentrate all his thoughts on his broth- 
er's trouble and keep his own until such time as he 
could deal with it; and, while Graham poured out his 
heart -going over his story of the Ita Strabosck 
rescue again and again - Peter quietly undressed h.m, 
bit by bit. " Yes, old man," he kept saying, " I quite 
understand; but what you've got to do now is to get 
to bed and to sleep. Let me take oflf your coat. 



LIFE 



225 



That's right. Now sit down for a second. Now let 
me undo your shoes. Ifs a jolly good thing I came 
home \ou bet your life I'll stand by you and see 
you through — you bet your life I will! " 

" And you swear you'll not say anything about this 
to mother or Belle, and especially father -even if 
1 m 111,— m fact to any one ? You swear it ? " 
' Of course," said Peter. 

There was something comical as well as pathetic in 
the s.ght of this big fellow playing the woman to th's 
distraught boy,- undoing his tie, ta':ing off his collar 
and gradually getting him ready for bed. It was a 
long and difficult process and needed consummate tact 
tender firmness and quiet determination. A hundred 
times Graham would spring to his feet and -with 
one shoe on and one shoe off, minus coat and waist- 
coat, tie and collar -pace the room from end to end 
gesticulating wildly, sending out a torrent of words in 
a hoarse whisper — sometimes almo'^t on the verge 
of fears He was only twenty-four - not much more 
than a boy. It was very hard luck that he should be 
"P against so sordid a slice of life at a time when he 
stood at the beginning of everything. 

But Peter knew intuitively that it was absol-itely 
necessary for Graham to rid his svstem of this Stra- 
bosck poison and empty out his heart and soul before 
he could be put to sleep. like a tired child. And so 
with the utmost patience, he subjected himself to play 
the part of a mental as well as a physical nurse Bet- 
ter than that, he mothered his brother, smoothed him 
down, sympathized with him, assured him again and 



m 






236 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

again that he had done the only possible thing; and 
finally as the first touch of dawn crept into the room 
had the infinite satisfaction of putting the clothes 
about his brother's shoulders and seeing his dark head 
buried in his pillow. Even then he was not wholly 
satisfied. Creeping upon tip-toe about the room he 
laid hands on Grab" /s razors and put them m his 
pocket. He was possessed with a sort of terror that 
the boy might wake up and, acting under a strong 
revulsion of feeling, cut his throat. It must be 
remembered that he had watched a human being under 
the strain and stress of a very strong and terrible emo- 
tion and he was naturally afraid. He knew his broth- 
er's excitable temperament. He had heard him 
confess that the girl had exercised over him something 
more than mere physical attraction, and although he 
was no psychologist it was easy for him to see that, 
for a time at any rate, Graham was just as ready to 
hurt himself as to hurt the girl. Some one had to be 
paid out for his suffering and it was Peter's business 
to see that his brother, at any rate, escaped punish- 
ment. Not content with having got Graham to bed 
and to sleep and secured the razors which might be 
used in a moment of impetuousness, Peter stayed on, 
sat down near the bed and listened to one after an- 
other of the sounds of the great city's awakening. It 
was then that he permitted himself to think back. He 
didn't remember the fracas in the studio apartment or 
the unpleasantness of the place with the unhealthy, un- 
pleasant creatures who had been there. He repeated 
to himself over and over again the words — the cold, 



LIFE 



227 



cruel words of Ranken Townsend,— " So *his was 
your precious business engagement. Well, I don't 
give my daughter to a man who shares her with 
women like Papowsky, so you may consider your- 
self free." In his mind's eye he could see the tall 
artist march away. He felt again as though he had 
been kicked in the mouth. 



II 

Ranken Townsend had arranged a sitting with 
Madame iMascheri, the famous opera singer, at eleven 
o'clock. He entered his studio at ten, and the first 
thing he did was to ring up one of his best friends and 
get into a quarrel with him. He had already so sur- 
prised his old servant at breakfast that she had retired 
to the kitchen in tears. He was angry and sore and 
there was likely to be a nice clash in the studio when 
he said sharp things to the spoiled lady who consid- 
ered that all men were in their proper places only when 
they were at her feet. 

Ranken Townsend was more than angry. He was 
disappointed — mentally sick — completely out of gear. 
He had seen Peter Guthrie — and there was no argu- 
ment about the fact — come out of a notorious house, 
dishevelled and apparently drunk. It was a sad blow 
to him. A bad shock. The effects of it had kept him 
awake nearly all night. Betty was the apple of his 
eye. He was going to protect her at all costs, and he 
knew that in doing so he must bring great unhappi- 



) t 



.1; 



228 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

ness into her life. He had believed in Peter Guthrie. 
He had seemed to him to be a big, strong, clean, hon- 
est, simple, true fellow who had gone straight and who 
meant to continue to go straight. It meant a tre- 
mendous amount, an altogether incalculable amount 
to him as a father to have found that his estimate was 
wrong. He realized perfectly wcil that his words had 
been harsh the night before, lie detested to have 
been obliged to say them; but, for the sake of his little 
girl, he was not going back on them. The evidence 
was too strong. 

The telephone bell rang. He stalked across to it. 
"Well?" he said. "What's that? Who did you 
say? Send him up at once." And then, with his 
jaw set and his hands thrust deep into his pockets, 
he took up a stand in the middle of the studio and 
waited. 

It was Peter. He came in quietly and looked very 
tired. " Good morning, Mr. Townsend," he said. 

The answer was sharp and antagonistic. " I don't 
agree with you." 

Peter put down his hat and stick, went up to the 
artist and stood in front of him squarely and without 
fear. " You're going to withdraw what you said last 
night." 

"You think so?" 
" Yes." 
"Why?" 

" Because it was unjust and no man is hanged ni 
these times before he's given a chance to defend hmi- 
self." 



LIFE 



229 



"No one is going to hang you, Peter Gutiirie. 
You'vt hanged yourself." 

" No, no," said Peter, " that won't do. It isn't liiie 
you to adopt tliis attitude and I must ask you to treat 
me properly." 

Townsend shot out a short laugh. "There's no 
need for you to ask me to do that. My treatment of 
you is going to he so proper that this is going to be 
the last time you'll come into this studio. I've done 
with you. So far as I'm concerned you're over. 
Betty isn't going to see you or hear from you again. 
I consider that it was a mighty good accident that took 
me into Fortieth Street last night. That's all I have 
to say." 

Peter didn't budge. He just squared his shoulders 
and tilted his chin a little more. " I don't think that's 
all you've got to say," he said. " I quite understand 
that you had a bad shock when you saw me coming 
out of that place last night. If I were in your shoes 
I should say just what you're saying now." 

" It's something to win your approval," said Town- 
send, sarcastically, "and I'm sure I'm very much 
obliged to you for coming down town to give me your 
praise." 

" Oh, don't talk like that," said Peter. " It doesn't 
do any good and it doesn't help to clear things up." 

"You can't clear things up. Neither of us can. 
You began by lying to me when you said you had a 
business engagement, and you wound up by coming 
out drunk of the rottenest house in this city. And, 
see here! I don't like your tone. I'm not standing 



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230 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

here to be reproved by you for my attitude in this tnat- 
ter. I might be more inclined to give you a chance if 
you made a clean breast of it." 

"I wish I could," said Peter, "but I can't. All I 
can tell you is that I had to go to that phce last night 
for a very fe -od reason. I'd never been there before 
and I shall never go there again. I hadn't even heard 
of the place until a few days ago. You've got to 
accept my word of honour that I went there with a 
friend of mine to get a man who means a very great 
deal to me out of bad trouble." _ 

" It's taken you sometime to think that out," said 
Townsend, brutally. 

Peter winced as if he had been struck. He had 
gone to the studio under the belief that everything 
would be quite easy. He was honest. His conscience 
was clear. He was not a liar. Surely his word 
would be accepted. Whatever happened he wasn't 
going to be disloyal to his brother. Apart from the 
fact that he had sworn not to give Graham away, he 
wasn't the kind that blabbed. He tried again, still 
keeping himself well under control, although he was 
unable to hide the fact that Ranken Townsend's utter 
disbelief 'n him hurt deeply. 

" Mr. Townsend," he said, " I don't want to do any- 
thing to make you more angry than you are. It's per- 
fectly simple for you to say that you won't have me 
marry Betty. But remember this: I've only got to 
go to Betty and ask her to marry me, with or without 
your consent, and she will. If you don't believe me, 
you don't know Betty." 



LIFE 



231 



" Ah ! but tliat's exactly where you make your mis- 
take," said Townsend. " I do know Betty. And let 
me tell you this, Peter Guthrie: My girl has been 
brought up. She hasn't been dragged rp or allowed 
to bring herself up. The consequence is that she's 
not among the army of present-day girls who look 
upon their fathers and mothers as any old trash to 
be swept aside and over-ridden whenever it suits them 
to do so. I'm the man to whom she owes all the hap- 
piness and comfort that she's known. I'm the man 
who's proud to be responsible for her, to whom she 
belongs and who knov\s a wide stretch more of life 
and its troubles than she does,— and, not being an 
empty-headed, individualistic, precocious little fool, 
she knows it too. She belongs to a past decade — to 
an old-fashioned family. Therefore, what I say goes; 
and if I tell her that, for a \ery good reason, I don't 
want her to ha\e anything to do with you, she will 
be desperately unhappy, but she'll not question my 
authority or my right to say so. These are facts, how- 
ever absurd and strange they may appear to you. I 
think it would be a damned good thing if other fathers 
took the trouble to get on the same footing with their 
daughters. There'd be less unhappiness and fewer 
grave mistakes if they did." He was almost on the 
verge of adding, " Look at your sister Belle if you 
don't believe me." 

Peter had nothing to say. 

The two men stood facing one another, gravely, in 
silence. They were both moved and stirred. And 
then Peter nodded. " I'm glad you're Betty's father," 



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232 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

he said at last. " She owes you more than she can 
ever pay back. I give you my word that I shan t 
attempt to dispute your authority. I ■•« P^^*/""'.'^;^^ 
Townsend, and when I marry Betty I want to naNc 
your consent and approval. I also gne you my word 
that it was absolutely necessary for me to go to Ha- 
powsky's last night, without any_ explanation what- 
ever. Are you going to take it? " 

"No" said Townsend; "I'm not. Even if Id 
known you for years what you ask is too -"ch f°r me 
to swallow. Good Lord, man! can t you see that Im 
protecting my daughter - the one person I love m this 
Sd - the one person whose happiness means more 
I me than anything on earth? ^Vhy should I behe e 
that you're different from other young men,- the 
average young man whom I see every day. who no 
l^;e cares about going clean to the won,an he ,s gomg 
to marry than he does for runnmg straight r rwards^ 
I don't know you and hitherto I've accer' d you on 
your face value. When it comes to the luesfon of 
I man's trusting his daughter to the first person who 
com'-s and asks him for her, he's got to be pretty sue 
of what he's doing. In any case, I don't hold with 
the cJd saying tha'. 'young men will be young men. 
You may sow your wild oats if you like, but hey re 
not gll .0 blossom in the garden of a bttle girl who 
ElSgs to me. In that respect I'm as narrow-mmde 
7s a Quaker. And let me tell you this final y. I 
know?he sort of place that Papowsky's is. I know 
what goes on there and the sort of people who fre 
quent it. To my mind any man who's seen coming 



UFE 



233 



out of It docs for himself as the future husband of 
any good girl. If you have, as you say. a good reason 
for going there, tell it to me. If not, get out." 

The artist had said these things witli intense feel- 
ing. Hard as they were, Peter had to acknowledge 
that they were right. Just for one instant he wav- 
ered. He was on the point of giving the whole story 
away. Then his loyalty to his brother came back to 
him. He would rather be shot than go back on the 
man who had trusted him and with wlio.n he had 
grown up with such deep affection. " Very well, ' he 
said, " that settles it. I've nothing more to say. But 
one of these days I'll prove that my word of honor 
was worth taking. In the meantime, you can't stop 
me from loving Betty and you'll never be able to stop 
Betty from loving me." 

He turned on his heel, took up his hat and stick 
and went out. 



Ill 

Graham was sitting up in bed when Peter returned 
to his room. He was looking about him with an ex- 
pression of queer surprise,— puzzled apparently to 
find himself in his room. 

"Oh, hello, old man!" said Peter. "How d'you 
feel?" 

Graham put his hand up to his head. "I don't 
know yet. Have I been asleep? I thought I'd been 
m a railway accident. I was looking about for the 
broken girders and the ghastly signs of a smash." 



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234 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

He got slowly out of bed. put on his slippers atid 
walked up and down for a few minutes with a heavy 
frown on his face. The emotion of the night before 
had left its marks. He stopped in front of a chair 
on the back of which his evening -lothes were hang- 
ing neatly. He rememlxred that he had thrown them 
off He noticed — at iu^t with irritation — that the 
things on his dressing-table had been re-arranged — 
tampered with. It didn't look as he liked it to look. 
Something had been taken away. It dawned on him 
that dl his razors had been removed. " Removed, 
-the word sent a sort of electric shock through his 
brain as it passed through. He went over to the win- 
dow and looked out into the street. The sun glorified 
everything with its wonderful touch. Good God! 
To think that he might be standing at that very mo- 
ment on the other side of the great veil. 

" I don't know — I don't know what to say to you 
for all this, Peter," he said. 

Peter sat down, thrust his hands into his pockets 
and his long legs out in front of him. Reaction had 
set in He feh depressed and wretched. "One of 
these days," he said, " I may ask you to do the same 
thing for me." 

Something in his tone made Graham turn round 

sharply. " What's wrong? " 

" Everything's wrong," said Peter. But 1 11 tell 
you some other time. Your affair has got to be set- 
tled first." ^^ ^ . . ^ 
" No; teU me now," said Graham. He dreaded to 
feel that he was the cause somehow or other of bring- 



LIFE 



235 



ing trouble upon his brother. Never before in all his 
life had he seen I'eter looking like that. 

" Mr. Townsend happened to be passing Papi > -! . s 
last night and s-nv me coming out. I'd had a .scrap 
up in the studio with a bunch of men who were half 
drunk. I must have looked like it. He told me tliat 
he wouldn't have me marry Betty, and he repeated it 
this morning. I've just come away from his place. 
That's what's the matter with me." 



curse me!" cried Graham. "Curse me for 



"Oh, 
a fool!" 

Peter sprang to his feet. " Don't start worrying 
about me. And look here; don't let's waste time in 
trying to scrape up spilt milk. I'm going to marry 
Betty, that's a dead certainty, and sooner or later Mr. 
Townsend will withdraw the brutal things he said to 
me. And you're going to wipe your slate clean, right 
away. So buck up and get busy, old man. Have 
your bath and get dressed as soon as you can. I'm 
going to help you to fix your affair as soon as you're 
ready." 

" How ? " asked Graham. 

" I don't know quite. I think I'll ask Kenyon." 

" No, don't. Let's do it together. I don't want 
Kenyon to see, — I mean I'd rather Kenyon was out 
of it. I'd rather that you were the only one to look 
on at the remainder of my humiliation, — that's the 
word. He knows quite enough as it is." 

"All right!" said Peter. "Hurry up, then. 
We'll go round to the apartment and see Ita Stra- 
bosck. I cashed a cheque on the way back from Mr. 



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236 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

Townsend's. We can't let her go out into the street 
with nothing in her pocket,— that's impossible." 

Graham nodded. He couldn't find words to say 
what he felt about it all. There was a look of acute 
pain on his pale face as he went into the bath-room. 

And then Peter sat down at his brother's table and 
wrote a little note to Betty : 

" My own dearest Baby : _ 

" Something has happened and your father — who s a 
fine fellow and well worthy of you — believes that I'm 
such a rotter that he's told me to consider myself 
scratched. I'm going to play the game by him for your 
sake as well as his. Don't worry about it. Leave every- 
thing to me. I won't ask you to go on lovmg me and be- 
lieving in me, because that you must do, just as I shall go 
on loving you and believing in you. It has to be. I've 
got to think things over to see what can be done. 
" In the meantime, and as long as I live, 

" Your Peter." 

He addressed the letter and put the envelope in his 
pocket. Then he went to the bath-room and called 
out: "Old man, shall I have some breakfast sent up 
for you ? " The answer was, " No ; the sight of food 
would make me sick." 

Graham dressed quickly and nothing more was said 
by either of the brothers until they went out into the 
street together. 

" We'll get a cab," said Peter. 

" No ; I'm too broke. Let's walk." 

And so they walked hard, arm in arm. It seemed 
rather an insult to Graham that the day was so fine, 



LIFE 



237 



the sky so blue and equable and that all the passers-by 
seemed to be going on their way untroubled. He'd 
have been better pleased if the day had been dark and 
ugly and if everybody had been hurrying through rain 
and sleet. His own mind was disturbed by a storm 
of the most unpleasant thoughts. The girl whom 
they were on their way to see had exercised a strong 
physical fascination over him. He had believed in 
her absolutely. She had meant a great deal to him. 
Her deceit and cunning selfishness brought pessimism 
mto his soul. It was a bad feeling. 

As they came up to the house with its shabby door 
a man w.!l-past middle age.- a flabby, vulgar person,' 
with thick awkwar- legs.- left it rather quickly and 
walked in the opposite direction. The two boys went 
m and Peter led the way up the dark staircase. The 
door was open and Lily, the colored maid, was hold- 
mg a shrill argument with a man with a basket full of 
empty siphons on his arm. Her face broke into an 
odd and knowing smile when she saw Graham They 
passed her without a word and went along the passage 
into the sming-room. It was empty, but in a hideous 
state of disorder. There was about it all that last 
night look which is so unpleasant and insalubrious. 
I he windows had not been opened and the room 
reeked with stale tobacco smoke and beer Cigar 
stumps lay like dead snails on the carpet. Empty 
bottles were everywhere and dirty glasses. Through 
the half-open door which le<I into the bed-room they 
heard a flutey. uncertain soprano voice singing a curi- 
ous foreign song. 



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238 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

After a moment of weakness and indecision, 
Graham pulled himself together and called out: " Ita! 
Ita ! " sharply. 

The song ceased abruptly. There was a cry of well- 
simulated joy and the girl, with her hair frowzled and 
a thin dressing-gown over her night-dress, ran into 
the room with naked feet. She drew up short when 
she saw the expression on Graham's face and Peter's 
square shoulders behind him. " Somesing ees ze mat- 
ter," she said. "Oh, tell me!" Second nature and 
constant practice made the girl begin to act. This was 
obviously an opportunity for being dramatic. 

With a huge effort Graham controlled himself. 
" I'm giving up this apartment to-day," he said. 

" You are giving up ? " 

" I said so." 

"And what ees to become of me? You take me 
somewhere else ? " 

" No. I hope I shall never see you again — 

never I " 

The girl burst forth. How well he knew that 
piteous gesture — that pleading voice — the tears that 
came into those large almond eyes,— all those tricks 
which had made him what he had been called the night 
before at Papowsky's — " a boob." "What 'ave I 
done? Do you not love me any more? I love you. 
I will die for you. You are everysing to me. Do not 
leave me to ze mercy of ze world. Graham! 
Graham! My saviour! I love you zo!" 

Graham shook her off. " Please don't," he said. 
" Just pack your things and dress yoarself. All I've 



LIFE 



239 



got to say to you is that I've found you out. Perhaps 
you'd better go back to Papowsky's. You're very 
clever,— they all say so there. Find another damned 
young fool — that'll be easy." 

The girl suddenly threw back her head and broke 
into an amazing laugh. The sound of it,— so merry 
— so full of a sort of elfin amusement, — was as start- 
ling to the two boys as though a bomb had been 
dropped into the room. "I could not find such a 
damned fool as you," she said loudly and coarsely, 
" eef I 'unted the earth. Eef you 'ad waited to come 
until to-night you would 'ave found zis little nest 
empty and ze bird flown. There ees a better boob zan 
you. Perhaps you met 'im going out. 'E marries 
me to-morrow. I vas to keep zat for a leetle surprise. 
Oh, yes, I am clever, and eet kills me with laughing 
to zee you stand there like a scliool teacher. You 
turnover anew leaf now, eh? Zat ees good. Zo do 
I. To-morrow I am a wife. I marry a man. My 
time with babies ees over." 

She picked up a glass that was half-full of beer and 
with a gesture of supreme contempt jerked it into 
Graham's face. Then, with the quickness of an eel, 
she returned to her bedroom and slammed the door.' 
They heard her laughing uncontrollably. 

Graham wiped his face with his handkerchief, and 
dropped it on the floor with a shiver. " I shan't want 
to borrow any money from you, Peter," he said in a 
low voice. " Let's go." 

And they went out into the street together — into 
the sun, and took a long breath of relief — a long, 



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240 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

clean breath, untainted by stale tobacco smoke and 
beer and the pungent scent of Ita Strabosck. 

Peter made no attempt to put into words his intense 
sympathy, but he took his brother's arm and held it 
tight, and Graham was very grateful. Right out of 
the very bottom of his heart two tears welled up into 
his eyes as he walked away. 

After all, he was only twenty-four. 



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IV 



On her way up to her room that night, Ethel drew 
up short outside Graham's bedroom door. She knew 
that he was in, which was in itself unusual. She 
thought there must be something the matter, because 
she had seen Graham leave the house in the morning 
long after his usual time. She had also watched his 
face at dinner and had seen in it something that fright- 
ened her. It was true that Peter was her favorite 
brother, but she was very fond of and had great ad- 
miration for Graham. Also she, herself, was in trouble. 
Trouble seemed to be an epidemic in that family. Her 
Knight Errant next door, in spite of her signalling and 
the fact that she had laid out as usual the cigarettes 
and the candie;;, had deserted her. In order to receive 
his visits and feed herself on the excitement with which 
they provided her, she was still maintaining her pre- 
tence of invalidism, and the worst of it was she now 
knew that she had grown to be very fond of the boy, 
who at first had only been a source of amusement. 



LIFE 



241 



So, with a fellow-feeling for Graham, she listened 
outside his door. She wanted very badly to slip in 
and give her sympathy to her brother and receive some 
of It from him. She didn't feel quite as individual- 
istic as usual. The artificiality of the flapper left her 
for the time being and she felt as young as she really 
was and rather helpless, and awfully lonely. 

Hearing nothing, she tapped gently on the door 
opened it and went in. Graham was sitting in an arm- 
chair with his elbows on his knees and his head be- 
tween his hands. He made a picture of wretched- 
ness which would have melted the heart of a sphinx. 
Ethel went over to him and put her hand on his 
shoulder. "Is anything the matter, Hammie?" she 
asked, using the nickname that she had given him as 
a child. 

Graham didn't look up. " Oh, Lord, no ! " he said, 
with a touch of impatience. " What should be the 
matter? •• But he was very glad to feel that touch of 
friendliness on his shoulders. 
" Can I do anything for you ? " 
" Oh, no. I'm all right — as right as rain." 
Ethel knew better. She knew also that slie would 
have said those very things to Belle if she had been 
cauglit in a similar state of depression. So she sat 
down on the arm of Graham's chair and put her hand 
against his cheek. " I've got about a hundred and 
seventy-five dollars, if that's any good to you," she 
said. 

Graham gave a scoffing laugh, but all the same he 
was very grateful for the offer. " My dear kid." he 



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242 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

said, " a hundred and seventy-five dollars — that's no 
better than a dry bone to a hungry man." 

" Is it as bad as all that, Hammie? " 

" Yes, and then some." 

Ethel thought deeply for a few minutes. Her char- 
acteristic selfishness, which had been almost tenderly 
encouraged at school, had given way temporarily be- 
fore her own disappointment. " Well," she said 
finally, " I've got four brooches and five rings, a watch 
and a dressing-case. You can sell them all if you 

like." 

Then Graham turned round, gave his little sister 
one short, affectionate look and put his head down on 
her shoulder. " Don't say anything, please," he said. 
"Just let me stay here for a minute. It does me 

good." 

And he stayed there for many minutes, and the two 
sat silently and quietly, getting from each other in their 
mutual trouble the necessary help which both needed 
so much. A strange, new feeling of motherliness stole 
over the girl. It surprised her. It was almost like 
being in church on Christmas Eve, or listening to the 
most beautiful melody. 

It was a long time since these two had taken the 
trouble to meet each other half-way. The thoughts of 
both went back to those good hours when Graham had 
put his little sister on a sled in front of him and pushed 
her, laughing merrily, over the hard snow in the park. 
He had never even dreamed in those days of money 
and the fever that it brings, or women and the pain 
they make. 



LIFE 



243 



And then Graham got up, just a little ashamed of 
himself, — after all, he was now a man of the world, — 
and saw that Ethel's cheeks were wet with tears. It 
was his turn to try and help. " Good Lord ! " he said. 
" You don't mean to say that you're worried about 
anything. What is it ? " 

She shook her head and turned her face away. 
"Oh, nothing — nothing at all." 

All the same she felt much, ever so much better for 
the kiss that he gave her, and went along to her own 
room half-determined to be honest with herself and 
go back to school the next day. She was rather 
startled to find the smell of cigarette smoke in her 
bedroom, which was in darkness. She turned up the 
nearest light and almost gave a cry of joy when she 
found the boy from next door sitting on the window- 
sill. 

"Jack!" she cried. "I thought you were — I 
thought you had " 

Jack threw his cigarette out of the window and got 
up awkwardly. " I got your note just now," he said, 
" and so I've come." 

Ethel went to the door and locked it. All the clouds 
had rolled away. She was very happy. She had evi- 
dently made a mistake. He must have been prevented 
from coming. She wished he'd given her time to 
powder her nose and arrange the curls about her ears. 
As it was, she opened the box of cigarettes and held 
out the candies to him. 

" No, thanks," said Jack. " I'm off chocolates and 
I've knocked off smoking to a great extent." 



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244 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

With a womanly touch which she and all women 
have inherited from Eve, who never forgot to stand 
with her back to the sun and took care, if possible, 
to remain in the woods until after breakfast, Ethel 
turned on a shaded light and switched off the strong 
overhead glare which made her look every day of her 
fifteen years. Then she sat down with the light over 
her left shoulder. She was quite herself again. All 
was well with the world. 

"Where have you been?" she asked, a little im- 
periously. 

" Nowhere," said Jack. 

" Then why haven't you been to see me ? I have 
signalled every night. I can't understand it." 

" I know you can't. That's why I've stayed away." 

Ethel was puzzled at the boy's solemn tone. " Of 
course, if you don't want to come, please don't. I 
wouldn't drag you here against your will for any- 
thing." 

" Yes, but I do want to come. I '■-tay away for 
your sake, and I'm not coming again after this even- 
ing." 

That was exactly what Ethel wanted to hear. She'd 
been afraid that Jack had found some one else. Now 
she knew differently. "Don't be silly," "'^e said. 
" Have a cigarette. Come and sit on the i and 
don't Icf -5 waste time." 

But Jack didn't move. He had gone back to the 
windowsill and remained hunched up on the narrow 
ledge, holding on with both hands. " I'm off in a 
minute," he said. " I'm ju.st going to tell you one or 



LIFE 



245 



Would you like to hear 



two things before I go. 
them ? " 

"If they're pleasant," she said. 
" Well, they're not pleasant." 
" Well, then, tell me." 

For a moment or two Jack remained silent. Per- 
haps he was trying to find careful words into which to 
put his thoughts. When finally he spoke it was with 
a suppressed emotion that sent a quiver through the 
quiet room. " I can't stand coming here," he said. 
" I can't stand it. I don't know what you are — 
whether you're a mere baby who knows nothing or 
an absolute little rotter. You tell me I can say what 
I thmk, so I'm going to." He got up and went a little 
nearer to the sofa. " What d'you think I'm made 
of? Look at yourself in the glass and then see 
whether you're the sort of a girl who can let a man 
mto her bedroom night after night for nothing I 
tell you I can't stand it. I stayed away, not because 
I wanted to, but because I didn't want to do you any 
harm. I was a fool for coming here at all. If I 
didn't believe that you are simply a silly girl I'd stay 
to-night and come every night as I used to do, but 
I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt. Next 
time you signal to a man take care to find out what 
he's^ made of and be a bit more careful. There, now 
you've got it. Good night and good-bye. I've a 
darned good mind to put the note you sent me to-night 
in an envelope and address it to your mother. It 
would save some other fellow from a good deal of 
unnecessary discomfort. I'm frightfully sorry to be 



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246 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

so brutal, but I dor.'t believe you know what you're 
(luing. Perhaps this'll be a lesson to you." 

He turned quickly, swung himself out, went up the 
rope ladder hand over hand and drew it up after him. 

Ethel closed her eyes and sat rigid. The boy might 
have planted his fist in her face. 





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Kenyon had taken Mrs. Guthrie and Belle to the 
Thirty-ninth Street Theatre that night. A quiet little 
romantic play, quite unpretentiously written, had 
found its way to that theatre either by accident or as 
a stop-gap. The manager who put it there had ar- 
ranged, even before the opening performance, to re- 
place it at the end of the week with something which 
had a punch, — a coarse, vulgar, artificial piece of 
mechanism such as he had been in the habit of pro- 
ducing all of his managerial life. His intention to 
do this was strengthened by the press notices, which 
all agreed that the new piece was a very little play 
about nothing in particular and which made too great 
a demand upon the imagination of its audience. That 
last remark of the critics was worth a million dollars 
to the play's author. The theatre remained almost 
empty until the Friday night of its first — and if the 
manager had anything to do with it — only week. The 
scenery for the new production was already stacked 
on the stage. But to the amazement of all concerned, 
except the author, the theatre did business. The house 



LIFE 



247 



was almost full and the box office was so busy that 
the young man who looked after it,— a past-master 
in rudeness,— became quite querulous. On Saturday 
night there was a full house and the Iwoking was so 
big for the following week that the notices of with- 
drawal were taken down and the play with a punch 
had to find another home. The manager, greatly put 
out, watclied this little play sail into a big, steady suc- 
cess, and whenever his numerous acquaintances — he 
had no friends — caught him in an unbusy moment, 
he would say : " I can't make it out. It beats me. 
Look at the notices. I couldn't understand a word of 
the thing when I read it. I onl> put it into the theatre 
to keep it warm. My word, f don't know what the 
public wants." He didn't, and he never would. But 
the author knew. He had made a play which appealed 
to the imagination of his audience. 

Peter had watched the party go to the theatre after 
an early dinner; had seen Graham go up to his room 
and his father drive away to a meeting at the Academy 
of Medicine; and then, anxious to be alone and think 
things over, he too left the house for a long, hard 
tramp. He went into the park and walked round and 
round the reservoir. The night was fine and clear, 
and up in the sky, which was pitted with stars, a yoi .g 
moon lay on her back. From all sides the music of 
traffic came to his ears in a never-ceasing refrain, and 
high up he could see the numerous electric signs which 
came and went with steady precision and monotony. 
Every now and then he caught sight of the Plaza, 
whose windows all seemed to be alight. It gave a 






"( Tf )( 




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[i:l; 



248 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

peculiar touch of fantasy to that side of the 
Park. 

Peter found himself thinking of some of the things 
which Ranken Townsend had said to him. Without 
bitterness, and certainly without anger, lie began to 
see something in the artist's bluntness which gradually 
made him long, with a sort of boyish anguish, to go 
in to his own father. The more he thought about 
this the more it seemed to him right and necessary and 
urgent to beard the Doctor in his den and break down 
the curious barrier which shyness had erected between 
him and his children. He realized at that moment 
that he stood desperately in need of a father's help 
and advice. It was quite obvious to him also that 
Graham needed these things even more than he did. 
If only they could both go to that wise and good man 
who stood aloof and get something more from him 
than the mere money with which he was so generous. 
He knew — no one bettw — that he always received 
from his mother the most tender sympathy, but how 
could he discuss with her some of the things with 
which he was faced since the Ita Strabosck episode 
hail come into his life? Kenyon had done much to 
make it plain to him that it was not good to continue 
to walk in blank ignorance of the vital facts with whieli 
his father dealt daily. He was a man and he had to 
live in the world. His boyish days among boys were 
over. They belonged to the past. 

It was borne in upon him as he went round and 
round the wide stretch of placid water in which was 
reflected the moon and stars, that his father should 



LIFE 



249 



know all about Graham. Certain things that Kenyon 
had said stuck to his mind like burrs. If he could 
persuade Graham to make a clean breast of it to the 
Doctor, the brother who meant so much to him might 
be saved from a disaster wli.i.!i would not merely af- 
fect himself, but others, — a wife and chihiren per- 
haps. Kenyon had hinted at this and the hint was 
growing in Peter's mird iil-e an abscess. It was time 
that he and his brother lac ! facts ard knew them. 
Who could initiate tlicin better than Jic distinguished 
doctor whose life had bctii (U\oted to such serious 
questions ? 

Having brought himself up to this poii t and being 
also tremendously anxious to tell his fa:her of the 
position in which he stood with ^W. Towtisend, Peter 
determined to strike while the iron was hot — to go 
home and see his father at once. He lelt he park 
quickly, and when finally he let hini.self into the house 
was astonished to see how late it was. The servant 
told him tliat his mother and sister had come back 
from the theatre and had gone to bed. " Mr. Ken- 
yon," he added, " came back, but went out again at 
once. Mr. Graham went to bed early and the Doctor 
has not returned yet." 

" Good ! " thought Peter. " Then I'll wait for 
him." He gave up his hat and stick, went through 
the quiet, dimly lit library, and after a moment's hesi- 
tation opened the door of the Blue Room, — that room 
in which he had been so seldom, hitherto only under 
protest. He had opened the door quietly and was 
astonished to see Graham sitting at his father's desk 



i. 

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250 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

with the light from a reading lamp shining on his dark 
head. "By Jove, Graham!" he said. "You must 
have been thinking my thoughts. This is extraor- 
dinary." 

Graham looked up with a start and thrust some- 
thing under the blotting-pad. His face went as white 
as a sheet and he stammered a few incoherent words. 

Quite unconscious of his brother's curious embar- 
rassment, Peter sat on the corner of the desk. " I've 
had it out with myself to-night," he said, going, as 
he always did, straight to the point. " I've made up 
my mind to make father into a father from now on- 
wards. I can't stand this detached business any 
longer. Let's both wait for him and have it out." 

"What d'you mean?" as' , ' Graham. "1 don't 
get you." He put liis hand out surreptitiously and 
scrunched up one of the sheets of note paper oti which 
he had been writing. 

" Listen i " said Peter, with intense earnestness. 
" I've got to know things. So have you. I've got 
to have advice. I've got to l)e treated as a human be- 
ing. \Vh.at's the good of our having a father at all 
if we don't get something from him? I don't mean 
money and a roof, clothes and things to eat. I mean 
help. I'm in a hole about Iktty. I want to talk 
about my work — about my future. Graham, lot's 
give fatlicr a chance. Many times he seems to me t(. 
have fumbled anil been on the point of asking us t" 
meet him half-way. Well. I'm going to do .so. St.i\ 
here and let's both see it through. Have the phuU 
to tell him about your trouble and throw the whole 



f, i 



LIFE 



251 



responsibility on him. It's his and he ought to have 
it. Wait a second. Listen! If Ranken Townsend 
had been your father you never would have gone near 
Papo\vsi<y. You woulihi't have come witliin a thou- 
sand miles of Ita Strabosck — that's a certainty." 

Graham got up quickly, but kept his hand heavily 
on the blotting-pad. '• Xo," he said almost hysteri- 
cally. " Count me out. I'm not in tliis. It's no good 
our trying to alter father at this time of day — it's too 
late. He's microbe mad. He knows nothing what- 
ever about sons and daughters. I could no more tell 
him about the mess I'm in than fly over the moon. 
He'd turn and curse nie — that's all he'd do. He'd 
get up and preach, or something. He doesn't under- 
stand anything about life. I'd a jolly sight rather 
go to mother, only I know it would hurt her so, and 
anyway my story isn't fit for her ears. No ; cut me 
out, I tell you, I'm not in this." 

Peter got up and put his hands strongly on his 
brother's shoulders. He didn't notice then how near 
he was to a breakdown. " Graham, old man, you've 
yot to be — you've just got to be. What Kenyon 
said is true. You and I arc blind and are damned 
children wandering about — stumljjing about. We 
need — we al>solutcly need a father more than ever we 
did in our lives. So do Ik'lle and Ethel. We all 
think that we can go alone, and we can't. 1 know I'm 
right — I just know it — so you've got to stav." 

A puff of wind came through ihc open window. 
Several pieces of paper flulHTcd off the dok and fell 
softly on the floor. Peter stooped and picked them 






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252 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

up. On them the words " Hunter G. Guthrie " had 
been written over and over again. 

He laughed as he looked at them. " What on earth 
has father been writing his name all over these sheets 
for ? How funny ! What a strange old chap he seems 
to be. It's a sort of undergraduate trick, this, — 
practising a signature before writing a first cheque." 

"Give 'em to me!" said Graham sharply, and he 
tried to snatch them away. His voice was hoarse and 
his hand shook. 

Peter looked at him in great surprise. It was im- 
possible for him not to be aware of the fact that some- 
thing was dreadfully wrong. As he stood and looked 
into his brother's guilty face the fact which stood out 
most clearly was that Graham had himself been writ- 
ing his father's signature all over those sheets of pa- 
per. Why ? A man did a thing of that sort for one 
reason only. 

He seized Graham's hand which was pressed on the 
blotting-pad, jerked it up, pushed the blotting-pad 
aside and picked up the cheque-book that laid beneath 
it. 

" Don't touch that," cried Graham, " for God's sake! 
Let me have it! I'll tear out the cheque. I think I 
was mad. Oh, God! I'm so worried I didn't know 
what I was doing ! " 

There was a struggle, quick and cliarp, and in an 
instant Graham found himself staggering across the 
room backwards. 

With his heart standing flill, Peter opened the thin, 
narrow, brown-covered book. A cheque for three 



LIFE 



253 



thousand dollars had been made out to Graham Gutli- 
rie. The signature had been forged. 

" You've done this," he said. " You've actu- 
ally " 

Graham was up on his feet. His lips were trem- 
bling. He put out a shaking hand. "My God!" 
he whispered. " Father's in the library." 

The sound of the Doctor's thin, clear voice came 
through the lialf-open door. Frozen with fear, Gra- 
ham seemed to be unable to move. His very lips had 
lost their colour. 

With an overwhelming anxiety to hide his brotIicr'.s 
frightful fall from honesty and sanity, Peter pounced 
on the little book, thrust it into Graham's pocket, 
snatched up the give-away slips of paper, tore them 
into small pieces and threw them in the basket. 

"Don't give me away. Don't let him know. If 
you do, I swear to God you'll never sec me again ! " 

There was still something to be done, and Peter did 
it. He took his brother up in his arms, realizing that 
he was, in a way, paralyzed, carried him to a chair 
that was out of the ring of light and sat him down. 
" Get yourself in hand, quick," lie whispered. 
" Quick, now ! " 

And Graham, strengthened by his brothers vitality. 
forced himself into some sort of control. 

Striding to the fireplace, Peter stood there waiting 
for his father, with a strange pain going through his 
body. He felt just as though he had been told that 
Graham, his best pal and dear brother, had had an 
appalling accident and might not live. 



''I 



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254 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



■P' 



The Doctor's voice, as he gave directions to a serv- 
ant, came nearer and nearer. 



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■I' ■(' 



VI 

With his hand on the handle of the door, the Doctor 
paused. " I want you to cal! me to-morrow at half- 
past-seven, Alfred. Don't forget. I have a busy day. 
Good-night." 

The two boys watched him come into the room. 
His head was high and there was a little smile round 
his usually straight mouth. He walked with a sort of 
sprightliness, as though moving to music. He looked 
e.xtraordinarily young and exhilarated. 

He saw what was to him a most unusual sight in 
that quiet, lonely work-room. He was surprised into 
an exclamation of great pleasure, and he quickened 
his pace until he stood between his sons. Graham got 
up and put on a nervous, polite smile. " Thiss what 
I most wanted," said the Doctor, — " my two boys 
waiting for me here in this room. T can't tell you — 
I can't tell you, Peter, and Graham, how often, how 
strongly, how eagerly I've wished to see you where 
you are now. I can't tell you how I've longed to have 
you here after my meetings, to teli you how I'm get- 
ting on, moving things forward, and to ask you share 
in my successes. My dear Peter — my dear Gra- 
ham." 

It was pitiful. The str.nnge. almost incoherent out- 
break of the shy man nearly made Peter burst intu 



«^i^l«0£' 



:wmi^s^m'im,- 



LIFE 



255 



tears. He would almost rather his father had treated 
them coldly and with raised eyebrows. His present 
attitude — his unhidden joy — his eager, and even 
wistful welcome, had in it something of tragedy, he- 
cause it showed all the waste of years during which 
the sympathy and the complete, necessary and beau- 
tiful understanding of these three might have been 
welded into one great, insurmountable rock. 

The Doctor, with an obvious desire to play host. — 
an intuition which again touched Peter deeply. — went 
quickly to a little chest wliich stood in a corner of the 
room. "What will you have?"' he asked anxiously. 
" I've got a very good cigar here, or cigarettes if you 
would like them better. Let me see! What do you 
smoke. Peter? " 

" He doesn't even know what I smoke," tliought 
Peter. " A pipe." he said. 

"Oh, yes, yes! Well, this is generally said to be 
a very good mi.xture. Try some." He gave a jar 
of tobacco to Peter. "These are nice, though per- 
haps they are a little too dry." .And he extended a 
box of cigars to Ciraham. 

The boy helped himself, trying to keep his liand 
steady. " Thank you," he said. 

" .And now," said the Doctor, "let's sit clown and 
have a long yarn. Shall we? 1 would like to tell 
you about to-night. The meeting was of vital interest 
and importance." He drew his chair forward so that 
it might be between those of the two boys. He looked 
from Peter's face to firahani's as though afinid that 
he was asking too great a favour. " Vou — you'll 



'f; 



iiimsum^ 



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256 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

forgive my talking about myself, I'm sure — at least 
I hope you will. I so seldom have the opportunity, — 
with those I love, I mean — with those for whom I'm 
working. To see you here like this, at last, makes me 
very happy." He slipped his large glasses off and 
wiped them openly without attempting to hide the 
fact that they had become suddenly useless to 
him. 

A short silence followed — a silence in which the 
emotion witli which the room was charged could al- 
most be heard. Peter threw a quick glance round it, 
almost as though he expected to see the curious ex- 
perimental tubes turn and point accusingly at his 
brother. The laboratory was filled with such tubes 
and other curious instruments, — all of them silent wit- 
nesses of Graham's act of madness. 

The Doctor re-lit his cigar, put his glasses on again 
and clasped his long, capable hands over one tliin knee. 
" I wish I could even suggest to you," he said — more 
naturally and with keen enthusiasm — " the intense ex- 
citement that we bacteriologists are all beginning to 
feel. For years and years we've been experimenting, 
and little by little our work is coming to a definite 
head. Every time we meet we find tliat we've moved 
a step further on the road to discoveries. It makes 
me laugh to think that my early theories, which, only 
a few years ago, were scoffed at and looked upon as 
dreams, are taking shape. It's been a long, uphill 
fight. Science is beginning to win. It's all very won- 
derful." ITe noticed that (^raham's cigar had gone 
out. With extreme politeness, such as a man would 



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LIFE 



257 



use to very welcome guests, he held out a box of 
matches. 

The boy took it. " I don't feel like smoking," he 
said, with a catch in his voice. 

Something in his tone made the Doctor peer closely 
at him. " You look pale, my dear lad," he said, " pale 
and tired. Aren't you well ? " 

"Oh, yes; he's perfectly all right," said Peter hur- 
riedly, trying to steer his father to another subject. 

Graham threw his cigar away. "I'm not!" he 
cried, with a sudden, uncontrollable outburst. " I feel 
as rotten as I am. I can't sit here and listen to you, 
father. Don't be kind to me, I can't stand it." He 
put his head down between his hands and burst out 
crying like a boy. 

The Doctor was startled. He got up quickly and 
stood hesitatingly. He wanted to put his hands on 
the boy's shoulders, but the sudden breakdown brought 
back his shyness. " What's the matter ? " he asked. 
" Peter, do you know ? " 

Peter nodded. He tlien made up his mind to let 
things take their course. " Let him tell you," he said. 
" This may be the turning point for all three of us." 

Graham drew the ohe(|ne-book out of his pocket, 
opened it and threw it on the desk under the reading 
lamp. " Look ! " lie said. " That's what I've come 
to." 

For some moments the Doctor saw nothing but a 
cheque drawn by himself in favor of his second son 
for three thousand dollars. The fact that he didn't re- 
member having made it out, and tlie fact that it was 



ar^,iasQiV'-\«i-t'ac;fi' '-' 



258 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



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for so large a sum made at first no impression upon 
him. He was so puzzled and so taken back at the 
sudden outburst of emotion which had broken up what 
he hoped was going to be a charming reunion that the 
sight of this cheque conveyed nothing to him. Both 
his s >! watched him closely, not knowing what he 
woulvi say or do. He was sitch a stranger to them — 
his .'eelings and characteristics were so unknown to 
thein that they found themselves speculating as to the 
manner in which he would take this dreadful piece of 
dishonesty. A great surprise was in store for them. 

When the Doctor realized what had been done, — 
that the signature on the cheque was not his own, al- 
though it was very cleverly copied, — they saw him 
wince and shut his eyes. After a moment of peculiar 
hesitation he drew his chair up to the desk and sat 
down. Holding his breath, Peter watched him tear 
the cheque out and quietly make out another for pre- 
cisely the same amount. Then the Doctor got up and 
stoixl in front of Graham with the new cheque in his 
hand. All the sprightliness and exhilaration with 
which he had entered the room had left him. He 
looked old and thin and humble. His shoulders 
stooped a little .ind the cheque trembled in his hand. 

" .\m I such nn ogre that my children are afraid to 
bring their troubles to me? " he said, in a broken voice. 
"What have I ever done to desene this, Graham? 
Vou"d only to come to me and say that you needed 
nionev and I'd have given it to you. Who am I work- 
ing lor? For whom have I always worked?" He 
licld out the cbci|uc. "Take it, and if that isn't 



LIFE 



259 



enough ask me for more. I'd like to knt w why it is 
that you need it, if you'll be good ent>ugh to tell me; 
but, for God's sake, don't hurt me like this again." 

Without a word — without, indeed, being able to 
find a word, — infinitely more crushed by this kindness 
than he would have been by an outburst of anger and 
reproach, — Graham took the cheque, turned on his 
heel and left the room, walking like a drunken man. 

Peter watched him go. There was a feeling of 
great relief in his heart. Nothing that he could have 
done or said — nothing that Kenyon could have said 
in his most forcible manner, with all the weight of 
sophistication behind it, could have pulled Graham up 
and set him on a new path so well as the unexiiected 
generosity of his father and the few pathetic words 
with which he underlined it. 

But when Peter turned round to his father with the 
intention of taking him, for the first time, into his con- 
fidence and treating him as he would have treated 
Ranken Townsend under the same circuiU'-'inccs. he 
saw that the Doctor was crumpled up in his chair with 
his hands over his face and his shoulders shaking with 
sobs, and so he held his peace ; and instead of obtain- 
ing the help that he needed so much he put his strong 
arm rounil his father in a strange protective way, as 
though he were the stronger man. 

" Oh, don't, father," he said. " Please don't." 



I I 



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26o THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



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VII 



There was a good reason why Kenyon didn't stay 
out his fortnight at Dr. Guthrie's house. He had al- 
ready begun to know several young men whose very 
good feathers were waiting to be plucked. It was 
obviously impossible for him to invite them to East 
Fifty-second Street, and it became necessary, there- 
fore, that he should take a bachelor-apartment in 
which to set up business. There he couUl play cards 
until any hour that suited liim and settle down seri- 
ously to make his winter in New York a success. 
Also, he confessed to himself, the atmosphere of the 
Doctor's hou.so was not conducive to his peace of mind 
or to his rigidly selfish way of life. He hadn't come 
over to the United States in order to play the fairy 
godmother, or even the family adviser to the young 
Gnthries. He had worked hard to clear the one thing 
out of Graham's life which had rendered him useless, 
and he had had the satisfaction of seeing Peter's en- 
gagement broken, for which admirable accident he 
was profoundly grateful, because Peter also would 
now be free. In fact, these two brothers could now 
easily Se brought to concentrate upon Kenyon's de- 
serving case and take round to his apartment any 
friends of theirs who enjoyed gambling and could pay 
whan they lost. 

Kenyon possessed a neat and tidy brain. It was 
run on the same principle as a well-organized business 
office. It had its metaphorical card indexes, letter- 



LIFE 



261 



files and such like: so that when he made up his mind 
to go into his own quarters he gave the matter the 
closest and most careful consideration. He paid sev- 
eral visits to the well-known bachelor apartment- 
houses in and around West I'orty-fourth Street. 
They would have been very suitalile but for the c.vi.st- 
ence of irksome rules and regulations as to ladies. He 
went further afield and, with (iraham's assistance, ex- 
amined several apartments in private h.mscs. \Vhat 
he wanted was a place sumewlicre on the map where 
his breakfast would be cooked especially for him at 
any hour he desired, and which would be free of ele- 
vator boys, clerks, and the watchful eye of a manager. 
Fuially he discovered e.xactly such a place on the sec- 
ond floor of a fairly large old-fashioned house in West 
Forty-eighth Street. In this the elderly lady who, as 
Kenyon at once saw, was blessed with the faculty of 
Ijemg able to look at things with a Xelsonian eye- 
having, poor soul, to earn her living,— lived in the 
basement with her parrot and her Man.x cat. Two 
young business men shared rooms on the first floor 
and a retired professor— who si)ent the greater part 
of his time in the country — rented the third floor. 
The servants slept in the attic. 

Into this house Kenyon moved,— much against the 
wishes of all the Guthries, especially Belle,— the day 
after Peter's attempt to get in touch with his father 
came to such an utter failure. He was very well 
pleased with his quarters. They gave him elbow-room 
and freedom from the responsibility of looking after 
another man's sons. The sitting-room, arched in the 



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262 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

middle, ran from the front to the back of the house 
and it was well and discreetly furnished. There was 
a particularly nice old Colonial mirror over the man- 
tel-piece, and what prints there were hanging on the 
walls were very pleasant. The bedroom across the 
passage would have been equally large had it not been 
broken up to provide a bath-room and a slip-room for 
b.iggage. 

I'ate, however, with its characteristic impishness, 
interfered with Kenyon's well-laid scheme. At the 
very hour when he was arranging his personal photo- 
graphs a cable addressed to hiir was delivered at Dr. 
Guthrie's house. It so happened that Peter was in the 
hall when the servant took it in, and he started off at 
once to take it round to his friend. He was glad 
enough to seize any excuse to see Kenyon again. He 
felt horribly at a loose end. Graham's affairs had 
completely upset him and disarranged his plans. He 
was longing to see Betty, but was not going back on 
his agreement with Ranken Townsend until such time 
as he could make the artist eat his words; and, as to 
his father and his endeavor to break down that appar 
ently insurmountable barrier, he was utterly disheart- 
ened and depressed. He was shown into Kenyon's 
rooms at the moment w'hen he was standing in front 
of a very charming photograph of Baby Lennox which 
he had placed on the sideboard. It showed her in ;i 
little simple frock, with a wide-brimmed garden hat, 
standing among her roses with a smile on her face. 
She looked very young, pretty and flower-like. 

"Hello, Peter!" 



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LIFE 



263 

I 



I ve brought this cable round. Otherwise 
?'''" t have rushed in on you quite so soon.' 

we.WW ^^^ u'' ^°^'" '"'"^ ^'">'°"' "y°" know very 
Hell that you have the complete run of whatever place 
I may be hvmg i„ at all hours of the day and night. 
A cable for me. eh ? What the devil _? i ,vas jolly 

England. Too many are anxious to serve me with 
summonses Baby Lennox is going to be married, 
perhaps, and sends me the glad tidings. By Tove I 
wonder who she's nabbed ! " He shot out a laugh and 
tore open the envelope. "Oh, my God' " 
"What is it?" asked Peter, anxiously. 
Kenyon held out the'cablegram and remained stand- 
ing ng.d. with his mouth open and his eyes shut, and 
nis face as white as a stone. 

It was from Baby Lennox. " Your fathe. died last 
n>ght. A heart attack. Come home at once " 
"Oh my dear Nick! " said Peter. " My dear old 

boy ! I can't tell you how " 

" No,'- said Kenyon ; " don't say anything. Just sit 
down and wait for me. Whatever you do, don't go " 
And he went out of the room and across the passage 
to his bedroom, and shut himself in 

Peter waited. The few cold, definite and even 
brutal words contained in the cablegram would ha\e 
i;t him much harder and rendered his sympathy for 
H.s friend very much more real if he could have felt 
what It would have been to him to hear of the death 
of his own father. While he waited, mechanically 
holding that slip of paper between his fingers hi. re 



^t 



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264 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

spect for his friend's grief widened into an odd and 
powerful feeling of envy. The man who was dead 
had been infinitely more than a father. He had been 
a friend and a brother as well. It made him sick and 
cold to feel that the receipt of such a cablegram bring- 
ing to him the news of the death of his own father 
would have moved him only to extreme sympathy for 
his mother. He was ashamed and humiliated to real- 
ize that no actual grief would touch him, because his 
father was nothing more than a sort of kind but illusive 
guardian or a good-natured step-father — altogether 
unufd to children — who effaced himself as much as 
he could and threw all responsibility upon his wife. 

It was an hour before Kenyon reappeared, and dur- 
ing that time — which seemed to Peter no more than 
a few minutes — he went over again in his mind the 
scene which had taken place in the Doctor's laboratory, 
out of which he had gone stultified and thrown back 
upon himself. He was as grateful as Graham had 
been for the Doctor's generosity, but appalled at the 
thought that he had utterly failed to realize not only 
the gravity of Graham's act, but the long years of 
parental neglect which made such an act possible. It 
seemed to him that the way in which his father had 
■ taken that deplorable incident was all wrong. He 
should not have written another cheque. He should 
have had Graham up in front of him, strongly and 
firmly, and tried him as a judge would have tried him 
if his act had been discovered and dealt with by law. 
He should have gone into all the circumstances which 
led up to the forgery and tliereby have cleared the way 



LIFE 



26s 



for a new understanding. As it was, his acceptance 
of it was so weak that it gave Peter and Graham a 
feeling almost of contempt for tiuu too kind man to 
whom children were obviously without significance, 
and the unmistakable knowledge that he was unable to 
understand his grj.ve responsibility and the fact that 
he, alone among men, must take the blame for all their 
misdeeds and mistakes, because they had been allowed 
to enter life unwarned, unguidcd and unhclped. The 
outcome to Peter of this hour's bitter thought was 
finally this : That if news were brought to him at that 
moment of his father's death the only sorrow that he 
could feel would be at the fact that he felt no sorrow. 

When Kenyon came back into the room it was with 
his usual imperturbability. He might merely have 
left it to answer the telephone or interview the man 
who had come to collect his clothes to be ironed. But 
his eyes were red. In his own peculiar wav ' ■ had 
loved his father and admired him. It was .<: first 
time that he had wept since he had been a child. 

" Thanks, so much, for waiting, old toy," he said. 
" I hope you've been smoking, or something." 

"No," said Peter; "I have things to think about 
too." 

Kenyon looked about, with a queer little smile. " I 
was just settling down," he said. " Very decent room, 
this, isn't it ? Well, well, there it is. You never know 
your luck, eh?" 

"When will you sail, Nick?" 

"The first possible boat. Do you know anything 
about the sailings? Ah, this paper will have it. I 



,;;J 
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206 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

detest the sea and its everlasting monotony and bland- 
ness, and the dull-oright propinquity that it forces 
upon one." He opened the paper and searched among 
its endless columns for the Shipping News. " Here 
we are. ' Trans- Atlantic Sailings.' I have a wide 
choice, I see. There's a Whi.e Star and a Cunarder 
leaving to-morrow at twelve-thirty. The Olympic. 1 
see! That's good enough, — if she's not full up. I'll 
see to it this afternoon. There's sure to be a cabin 
somewhere at this time of year." 

" I shall miss you badly," said Peter. 

•' Thanks, old man. I know you will. And I shall 
hate going. Well, well ! " 

Peter picked up a book and put it down again; 
opened and shut a box of cigarettes and pushed a bowl 
of flowers nearer the middle of the table. " Do you 
want any — I mean, can I ? " 

Kcnyon laid his hand on his friend's square shoul- 
der. " Not this time, Peter, old son. Tha.-'ks, aw- 
fully. I've had one or two good nights and my pock- 
ets are full of dollars. They'll see me home with per- 
fect comfort. Well, here ends my visit to the United 
States. To-morrow night I shall have left the hos- 
pitable Statue of Liberty behind me. But she'll see 
me again. I'll dash round in the morning and thank 
your people for their extreme kindness to me. You'll 
see me off, won't you? " 

" Yes," said Peter ; " of course." 

" Of course. 'We won't dine to-night. I — I don't 
feel like it." 

" I understand, old man," said Peter. 



LIFE 



267 



" So long, then." 

" So long," said Peter. 

" The Earl is d ad! " said Kenyon, with a sudden 
break in his voice. " Long live the Earl! " And he 
raised his hand above his head. 



VIII 

Not for the first time in his comparatively short 
life, Nicholas Kenyon was able to put to the test his 
often boasted power of self-control. It was his creed 
to accept everything that might happen to him, whether 
good or bad, with equanimity. It was part of his 
training to allow nothing to interfere with the routine 
of his day and the particular scheme that he had 
worked out for himself. He was, however, utterly 
unprepared for his father's death. Only the day be- 
fore he had received a very cheerful and amusing let- 
ter from the Earl of Shropshire which had provided 
him with many quiet chuckles. \\'hen the blow came 
in that sudden fashion it knocked hitn down and for 
an hour reduced him to the level of an ordinary human 
being — of a man who had not specialized in individ- 
ualism and who did not set the earth revolving round 
himself as its hub. Shut up in his bedroom he gave 
way to his real and best emotions, the genuineness of 
which surprised him. He was a master egotist — a 
superindividualist — the very acme of selfishness. 
Therefore, odd as it may seem, he was somewhat 
ashamed of his deep feeling, because it proved to him 
that one of the links of his carefully forged chain of 



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268 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



m 



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philosophy was weak. He defined the word philoso- 
pher as one who is profoundly versed in the science of 
looking after himself. 

As soon as I'cter had left Kenyon's rooms, the new 
Earl of Shropshire took himself in hand and " carried 
on " as they do in the Navy after casualties, accidents 
and the issue of new orders. He continued to ar- 
range his photographs round the room. He consid- 
ered that he might as well make himself completely 
comfortable until the time came for him to pack up 
again and leave the country. He called up Belle on the 
telephone and had a little talk with her. He told her 
of his father's death and of the fact that he would have 
to sail within the next twenty-four hours. He lis- 
tened with satisfaction to her cry of anguish, and ar- 
ranged with her to come to see him that evening. It 
appeared that she was engaged to dine with some 
friends and go with them to hear Alfred Noyes read 
his poems at the .Solian Hall. He insisted upon her 
keeping her engagement and begged that she would 
come round to his rooms alone at eleven o'clock. 

He didn't intend to leave the United States, even 
under such circumstances, without adumg Belle to his 
little list of conquests. The cold-bloodedness of such 
an intention was peculiarly characteristic of the man. 
" No weakness," he said to himself — " no weakness. 
No matter what happens, what had happened, is hap- 
pening or may happen, you must carry on. You've 
built up a creed, stick to it." And then, very quietly - 
having changed his tie to a black one — he went forth 
to discover the offices of the White Star Steamship 



LIFE 



269 



Company,— having obtained the proper directions 
from his landlady. He took the subway to the Bat- 
tery, interviewed a clerk of Number One Broadway, 
had the good fortune to find that there was a state- 
room vacant on the boat deck of the Olympic; 
wrote his cheque for it ; pocketed a bundle of labels ; 
paid Graham a brief visit in his office on Wall Street 
and walked all the way home again, endeavoring to 
count the German names all along tlic most amazing 
street in the world, and giving up his temporary hobby 
in despair. On the way home he sent oft" a cable to 
Baby Lennox, giving her the name of the ship on 
which he was to sail. By this time he was tired and a 
little dazed at the amazing stir and bustle of Broad- 
way, with its never-ceasing lines of cable-cars and its 
whir and rush of human traffic. He was glad of a 
cup of tea, and presently arranged himself for a quiet 
nap on the sofa in his sitting-room. 

Later, with his mind concentrated solely on Belle's 
impending visit and what he intended to achieve, he 
dined alone at the Ritz, dropped in to see a turn or 
two at the Palace, and strolled back to Forty-eighth 
Street at half-past-ten. As he went into the house 
he heard the landlady talking to the two young busi- 
ness men who lived on the hrst floor. She was asking 
them to De gc od enough not to play the piano that 
evening, as the Professor had come back from the 
country and was very unwell. She had sent for the 
doctor, and he would be more comfortable if the house 
were as silent as it could be made. 

Knowing that Belle would he punctual that night. 



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270 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

of all nights, he went down just before eleven o'clock 
and waited for her at the front door. It was his in- 
tention to get her into the house unobserved, more for 
his own sake than for hers. The night was clear, but 
half a gale was blowing, carrying before it all the dust 
of the city and sending odd pieces of paper swirling 
into the air and making the hanging signs outside 
shops and small restaurants ci^ak and groan. In its 
strong, vibrating song there was a note of wild passion 
that fitted exquisitely into Kenyon's frame of mind. 

Belle drove up in a taxicaj a few minutes after 
eleven. " Not a word until we get upstairs," said 
Kenyon, as he helped her out. And then when she 
stood in his sitting-room, with all her emotions in a 
Slate of upheaval, nothing was said for many minutes. 
He took her in his arms and kissed her, delighting in 
her young beauty and freshness with all the apprecia- 
tion of a connoisseur. 

There seemed to Belle to be no indiscretion in this 
visit. V/as she not engaged to be married to this man ? 

As a matter of fact, she w as not. Kenyon had been 
playing with her ; and now that he had succeeded to his 
father's title he had even less intention of dealing seri- 
ously by her than ever before. Marriage was not in 
his thoughts or plans. The title was his and the old 
house that went with it, but he was no better ofif than 
he had been as Nicholas Kenyon, the Oxford under- 
graduate. On the contrary he now had responsibilities 
of which he had hitherto been free and he must look 
out for some one who could buy his name for a sub- 
stantial sum. If Belle had read into his vague and 



LIFE 



271 



indefinite remarlts a j-roposal of marriage it only 
showed that she possessed a very lively imagination. 
He was not going at that point j i<ndeceive her. He 
was merely going io take from her everything that she 
was gracious enough to give. His trip to New York 
had provided him with very little in actual suVstance. 
He was determined that it should not be altogether 
empty, and that Belle should furnish him with a charm- 
ing memento. 

He broke into Belle's preliminary remarks of con- 
ventional condolence by saying, " Thank you ; but 
please don't say a word about my father. Let's talk 
about ourselves. We're alive. The next few hours 
are our property. Let's make them memorable. Let's 
give each other something that we can never forget." 
And he took her cloak and led her to a chair as though 
she were a oueen, d stood looking at her with very 
greedy eyes. 

But Belle's temperament was Latin. Ever since 
Kenyon had spoken to her over the telephone she had 
been unable to control her feelings. She loved this 
man overwhelmingly. She had given him all her 
heart, which had never been touched before. To her 
it seemed amazingly cruel that fate had come along 
with its usual lack of sympathy and circumspection 
and put a sudden end to all the delightful hours to 
which she had been looking . irward. The death of a 
man whom she didn't know meant very little to her. 
She was young, and to the young what is death but » 
vague mystery, aii inconvenient accident which seems 
to afifect every one but themselves ? Inder 1, s'.ic rather 



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272 



THE SINS OF THE CIiILDREN 







resented the fact that Kenyon's father, in dying, war, 
to take so suddenly out of her life the one human being 
about whom her entire happiness revolved. 

"Oh, Nicholas, Nicholas! Must you go? Must 
you leave me ? Let me go with you. I have the right. 
I shall be miserable and unhappy without you." And 
she clung to him with all the unreasonableness of a 
child. 

Kenyon was not in the least touched by this appeal 
— only e.xtremely pleased, because it showed him that 
Belle was in the ri,!,'ht mood to \>e won. He put his 
hand on her round, white shoulder. " You must be 
brave," he .said. " I know how you feel, but you must 
help me. Don't make things more difficult than they 
are. I may be able to come back quite soon, — who 
can tell? " 

" I believe you're glad to go ! " cried Belle. 

Kenyon drew back. He wanted to make her feel 
that she had hurt him. He succeeded. 

In an instant, full of self-reproach, Belle was on her 
feet and in his arms again. " What am I going to do 
without you? I almost wish you'd never come into 
my life. I've been looking forward to your being 
here the whole winter. How am I going to get 
through the days alone ? " 

A motor-car drew up at the house. Neither of them 
heard Dr. Guthrie's voice giving a quick order to the 
chauffeur O' recognized his step as he passed upstairs 
on the way to see his friend, the Professor, on the 
floor above, to whom he had been called by the land- 
lady. 



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LIFE 



271 



Presently, having turned out all the lights exrept a 
shaded lamp on the table. Kenyon began to let himself 
go. He threw aside his characteristic calmn. 3 and 
became the lover — the passionate, adoring man who 
was about to be separated, under tragic circumstances, 
from the girl who was equally in love He threw 
aside his first intention of finessing KcIIe into his bed- 
room on the plea of asking her to help him to pack 
He remembered that the old man above was ill and that 
the landlady and others would ..; passing to and fro. 
This was distinctly annoying. He was. however, a 
past-master in the art that he was at present pursuing 
and set the whole of his mind on his opportunity. 
Belle was, naturally enough, as putty in his ands and 
her despair at losing him made her weak J pliable. 
He sat down on the sofa and held Belle in his arms 
and kissed her again and again. " I love you ! I love 
you! I don't know — I can't think what I shall be 
like without you." he said, bringing all his elaborate 
cunning to play upon her feelings. "More like a 
man who's lost his arms than anything; and we were 
to have come nearer and nearer this winter, finding 
out all the best of each other and all the joy that it is 
to love wholly and completely." 

"Oh, don't go. don't go!" cried Belle, making a 
pathetic and almost child-like refrain of the words, " I 
love you so ! I love you so I " 

Kenyon bent down with her until her head was pil- 
lowed on the cushions, and kissed her lips and eyes. 
" You must love me, sweetheart, you must. It's the 
only thing that I can turn to and count on now. Go on 



274 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



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ill.;: 



1: 



■■M;H 



loving me every minute that I'm away. I shall need 
it, — and before I go let me have the precious proof of 
your love to store up in my heart. Give me the price- 
less gift that is the only thing to keep me living till I 
come back." 

" Nicholas, Nicholas ! " she whispered, with her 
young breasts heaving against him. " I love you so ! 
I love you so I " 

The moment of his triumph had almost been reached 
when the Doctor, on his way down, saw something 
glistening in the passage outside Kenyon's sitting- 
room. He stooped and picked it up. He was puzzled 
to see that it was a little brooch that he had given 
to Belle on one of her birthdays. Her initials had 
been worked on it in diamonds. For several mo- 
ments he held it in his hand, wondering how it could 
have been dropped in that place. He was utterly 
unaware of the fact that Kenyon lived in the house 
which he knew to be given up to bachelors. Then 
the blood rushed into his head. Almost for the first 
time in his life the Doctor acted on the spur of 
the moment. He was filled with a sudden sense of 
fear before which his inherent shyness and hesitancy 
were swept completely away. He tried to open the 
door. It was locked. He hammered upon it, shout- 
ing : " Let me in ! Let me in ! " 

Kenyon, cursing inwardly, sprang up from the sofa. 
" It's your father," he said. " Go and sit by the table, 
quick, and pretend to be arranging these photographs. " 
He could have ignored that knocking, but the result 
would be that the Doctor would go down to the land- 



LIFE 



27s 



lady and there would be a scandal. How in the name 
of thunder did l,e know that Belle was in the room? 
He dashed over to the mantel-piece, collected a hand- 
tul of his pictures and threw them on the table in 
front of Belle, who, with a touch of panic, tried to 
smooth her hair. Then he went to the door and 
opened it. 

" Good evening, Doctor," he said quietly " Thio- 
ls very kind of you. Belle is here helping me to pack 
and Peter should have been here, but I expect some- 
thing has detained him. Do come in." He saw the 
brooch in the Doctor's hand and cursed Belle's care- 
lessness. 

As Dr. Guthrie entered the room the blood slowly 
left his head. A feeling of .intense relief pervaded 
him. He saw Belle sitting at the table with the ut- 
most composure putting one photograph on top of 
another. At his side stood the man who hart recently 
been his honored guest and who was the best friend 
of his eldest son.— the man of whose sad loss he had 
heard that afternoon from his wife. He thanked God 
that everything was well and hastened to accept Ken- 
yon's suggestion that he had come there for the pur- 
pose of saying good-bye to him. It saved him from 
the appearance of having lost his head and made a 
fool of himself. " I — I'm indeed grieved to hear of 
your father's death, my dear Mr. Kenyon," he said 
stammering a little. " I was called to see an old friend 
of mine who lives in this house, who isn't at all well, 
and I thought I'd take the opportunity on my way 
down " 



r \i 



276 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

" I'm deeply obliged to you," said Kenyon, giving 
the weak, nervous man before him the credit of hav- 
ing seized the hint so quickly. " It helps me very much 
to have so many good friends. I sail to-morrow at 
two-thirty. This is a good opportunity for me to 
thank you very much for your delightful hospitality. 
Will you wait for Peter?" 

" No ; I think not, thanks," said the Doctor. " It's 
getting late and, as you say, Peter has in all prob- 
ability been detained. Belle, dear, I think you'd bet- 
ter come with me, now." 

Kenyon was still quite placid and courteous and un- 
daunted. " Oh, but mayn't she stay until Peter turns 
up?" 

" I think not," replied the Doctor, astonished at his 
own firmness. " It's very latt." 

" Curse it ! Curse it ! " cried Kenyon, inwardly. 
But with a little smile he went over to Belle and gave 
her his hand. " You've helped me a lot," he said. " I 
can easily finish packing now. Good night and good- 
bye." 

Choking back her sobs and full of resentment at 
her father's clumsiness and interference. Belle rose and 
allowed Kenyon to help her into her cloak. 

By a strange accident she, like Graham, had been 
saved from a disaster which might have followed her 
into the future. God's hand must have been stretched 
out to help that man, who, by his unconscious neglect, 
had made it possible for these two children of his to 
stand on the brink of irreparable misfortune. 

Kenyon, keeping up a quiet flow of conventional 



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LIFE 



277 



remarks, followed them down-stairs and out into the 
street. He could have drawn Belle back into the hall 
while the Doctor went out to the car, and kissed her 
once again. But,— it was over, what was the use. 
He watched her fling herself into the motor-car and 
sit all hunched up with her hands over her face, and 
then he took the Doctor's hand and shook it warmly. 
All the angels in Heaven must have shuddered as he 
did so, and cried, " Judas ! Judas ! " 

"Good-bye again, then," said the Doctor. " Fm 
deeply sorry for the reason that takes you away from 
us. I hope we may see you again soon." 
" I hope so, too," said Kenyon. 
Standing in that quiet street he watched the auto- 
mobile drive away, and cursed. His mind was filled 
with impotent rage. He felt as he did when he was a 
child and some one had hurt him. He wanted to find 
the thing which that some one treasured most and 
break it all to pieces, and stamp on it. Then he re- 
turned to his rooms, switched on all the lights, and with 
a gesture almost animalish in its baffled passion, swept 
all the photographs from the table. 

He was kicking them savagely, one after another, 
when he heard the whistle which he and Peter had 
used at Oxford to attract each other's attention. He 
ran to the window and opened it. There stood 
Peter with a glint of moonlight on his great square 
shoulders. 

"Come up!" said Kenyon. "By God, my luck's 
come back! Now I can make that old fool pay for 
ruining my evening!" 



11 



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378 IHB SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



IX 



■ * M 



till' 



P 'il 



With a fiendish scheme in the back of his head and 
with a most unpleasant smile on his face, Kenyon went 
over to the sideboard. He brought out two glasses. 
In one he mixed a whiskey high-ball and in the other 
he poured a concoction of neat whiskey and brandy, 
adding sverything else that his bottles contained, — a 
mixture calculated to dull the senses even of the most 
hardened drinker. Then he waited — still with this 
unpleasant smile upon his face. 

When Peter came in he looked tired and pale. His 
boots were covered with dust and there were beads oi 
perspiration on his forehead. " I saw that you were 
up," he said, " so I whistled. If you hadn't called out 
I should have gone home. Hope you don't mind." 

" Mind ! " cried Kenyon. " I never was so glad to 
see anybody in my life. You look like a tramp. 
Where've you been ? " 

Peter threw his hat on the sofa and sat down heavily. 
" I wasn't in the mood to go home to dinner. I've 
been walking hard ever since I saw you. God knows 
where I've been. At one time I stood under the 
apartment-house in Gramercy Park. It's a wonder I 
didn't go up and have it out again with Ranken Town- 
send. But it wouldn't have been any use." 

" Not the smallest," said Kenyon. " You'd only 
have given him the satisfaction of standing on his hind- 
legs and preaching to you. Will you have something 
to eat?" 



LIFE 



379 



Peter shook his head. 

" Well, then, have a drink." And he put the poison 
in front of Peter. " I was going to drink to myself, 
— a rather dull proceeding alone. Now you can join 
me. On your feet, Peter, old man, and with no heel- 
taps, I give you * the new Peer! The most decorative 
member of England's aristocracy,— Nicholas Augus- 
tus Fitzhugh Kenyon, Eighth Earl of Shropshire, 
master of Thrapstone-Wynyates — the man without 
a shilling ! ' Let it go ! " 

Peter stood up, clinked his friend's glass with his 
own, emptied it and set it down. " Good Lord ! " he 
said, with a frightful grimace. "What in thunder 
was that ? " 

Kenyon burst into a dctisive laugh. '"Some 
drink,' as you say over here. Away goes your water- 
wagon. Master Peter. Off you come from your self 
made pedestal. Drunk and incapable will be the words 
that will presently be very fitly applied to you, my im- 
maculate friend." And he laughed again, as though 
it were a great joke. It would do him good to see 
Peter " human," as he called it, for once, to satisfy 
his sense of revenge — to pay out Dr. Guthrie for his 
cursed interference. 

Peter was glad to get back to his chair. " I don't 
care what happens to me," he sai " What does it 
matter? I've got nothing to live for — a father who 
doesn't care a damn what becomes of me, and a girl 
who's given me up without a struggle." 

He had had nothing to eat since the middle of the 
day. He was mentally and physically weary. Al- 



i 



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280 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

though he was unaware of the fact, he had caught a 
severe chill. It was not surprising that the horrible 
concoction which Kenyon had deliberately mixed went 
straight to his head. 

Everything vile lying at the bottom of Kenyon's 
nature had been stirred up. At that moment he cared 
nothing for his friend's repeated generosity, his con- 
sistent loyalty and his golden friendship. With a sort 
of diabolical desire to amuse himself and see humiliated 
in front of him the man who had stuck to his principles 
so grimly, he filled his glass again, to make certainty 
doubly certain. " This time," he cried, " I'll give you 
another toast. Come on, now. On your feet again, 
and drink to ' that most charming family, the Guthries, 
and in particular to the eldest son — to the dear, good 
boy who has run straight and never been drunk, and 
has treated women with such noble chivalry. In a 
word, to Peter, the virgin man.' " He raised his glass, 
and so did Peter. This time the stufi almost choked 
him and he set his glass down only half empty. But 
he put on a brave front and sat up straight, laughing 
a little. " Nice roo-ns, these," he said. " Large and 
airy. Bit nicer than our first rooms at Oxford, eh? " 
How different this hideous poison made him look. 
Already he was like a fine building blurred by mist. 

" It's extraordinary what you dry heroes can do 
when you try," said Kenyon. " All I hope is that 
you'll come face to face with your fond parent pres- 
ently when you fumble your ,vay into your beautiful 
home." He bent down and picked up his photograi '■> 
and went on talking as though to himself. " Yes, 



LIFE 



281 



there s some satisfaction in making others pay I've 
tried ,t before, and know. I remember that plebeian 
mtle hunx at Oxford who was going into the Church 
His name was Jones,- or something of the sort. I 
think he was a damned Welshman. He once called 
me a 'card sharp.' I didn't forget it. The first 
night he turned up in his Parson's clothes I doped him 
and he woke up next morning in the gutter. I loved 
■t. Now, then, Peter, give me a hand with these 
things and bring them across the passage to my bed- 
room." He pointed to soirie books and left the room 
with his photographs. 

Peter got up unsteadily and rocked to and fro He 
picked up the books as he -..s directed and staggered 
after his friend. He lurched into the bedroom and 
stood in the doorway, supporting himself. "I'm — 

iTu '^''"".^'" ^' '^'"^' ^^'"^^y- "Hopelessly drunk. 
Wha— what the devil have you done to me' " 

Kenyon burst out laughing. Many times he had 
threatened to do this for his friend, whose attitude 
of consistent healthiness and simplicity had always 
irritated him. He delighted at that moment in seeing 
Peter all befogged and helpless and as wholly unable 
to look after himself as though he were a hahy. 

" Now you'd better go," he said sharply. He was 
tired with the episode. "I'm sick of the Guthries' 
Go home and cling to your bed while it chases round 
the room. I'll have mercy on you however to this 
extent. I'll put you in a taxi. There's sure to be one 
outside the hotel down the street. Come on, you hulk- 
ing ex-Oxford man. Lean on me. Rather a para- 



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282 THE SINS Of THE CHILDREN 

dox, isn't it? Hitherto I've always leaned on you." 
He got his visitor's hat and jammed it on his head, 
all cock-eyed. And then, still talking and jibeing and 
sneering, he led the uncertain Peter down-stairs. 

There were two taxicabs drawn up outside the hotel 
to which Kenyon had referred. He shouted and 
waved his hand. A chauffeur mounted his box, 
mana-uvred the car around and drove up, glad to get 
a fare. 

As he did so, a night butterfly flitted past, on her 
way home. She had had apparently an unsuccessful 
evening, for she stopped at the sight of these two men. 
Her rather pretty, thin, painted face wore an eager, 
anx;-~us look. " Hello, dearie! " she sa- J, and touched 
Kenyon on the arm. 

" By Jove ! " said Kenyon to himself. " By Jove ! " 

He was struck with a new inspiration. He had 
made his friend drunk. Good ! Now he would send 
him off with a woman of the streets. That would 
complete his evening's work in the most artistic fashion, 
and render Peter human at last. And who could tell ? 
It might hit the Doctor fair and square, — " the tact- 
less, witless, provincial fool." 

" Wait a second," he said to the girl, and witli 
the able assistance of the driver put the almost in- 
animate and poisoned Peter into the cab. Then he 
turned. The night bird was eyeing him with a curious 
wistfulness. She was too smartly dressed and the 
white tops of her high boots gleamed sarcastically. 
"Well, dearie?" 

" There's a customer for you," said Kenyon, jerk- 



LIFE 



283 



wg his finger towards the cab. ' Take him home. 
He has money in his pocket. Help yourself." 

The girl gave the driver her address — which was 
somewhere in the Sixties — and then, with a little 
chuckle, jumped in and drew the door to l;ehind her 
with a bang that echoed through the sleeping street. 

The cab drove away, and Kenyon's laugh went 
after it. 

He was revenged. 



i 



But for the chauflfeur, a burly and obliging Irish- 
man, Nellie Pope's unwilling and unconscious customer 
would never have reached her rooms. They were on 
■'le top floor of a brown-stone house which had no 
elevator. The struggle to earn his own daily bread 
made the chauflfeur sympathetic. So he got Peter 
over his shoulder, as though he were a huge sack, and 
earned him step by step up the narrow, ill-lit, echoing 
staircase. On the top landing he waited, breathing 
hard, while the girl opened the door with her latch- 
key. 

"Where'll I put him?" 

" Bring 'im into the bedroom," said the girl. " I'm 
sure I'm obliged to you for the trouble you've taken, 
mister. You'll 'ave a glass of beer before you go 
down, won't you ? " 

"Sure!" 

He lumped Peter on to the bed with an exclamation 
of relief. It groaned beneath hi.s dead weight. Mop- 



284 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 




1 1 ■ i; 



« 



i'Ml 



ping his brow and running his fingers through a shock 
of thick, dry hair, the Irishman looked down at the 
great body of his own customer's evening catch. " I 
guess I've seen a good many drunks before," he said, 
" but this feller's fairly paralyzed. It's a barrel he 
must have had, or perhaps he's shot himself with one 
of them needle things. Anyway, bo's a tine-looking 
chap." 

Nellie Pope, who had heard these remarks as she 
was pouring out a bottle of beer, — it was one of 
those apartments in which every sound carries from 
room to room and in which when you are seated m 
the kitchen it is possible to hear a person cleaning his 
teeth in the bathroom, — went in and stood at the 
elbow of the chauffeur. Switching on a light over 
the bed she pee.ed into Peter's face. Her own lost 
most of its prettiness under the glare. There were 
hollows and sharpnesses here and there, the roots of 
the hair round her temples were darker than the too- 
bright gold of the rest of it. There was, however, 
something kind, and even a little sweet about her 
English cockney face and shrewd eyes. " Yes 'e's a 
fine looking chap, isn't 'e, — a bit of a giant, too, and 
looks like a gentleman. Poor boy, I wonder what that, 
feller did to 'im ! " She put her hand on Peter's head 
and drew it back quickly. " 'E's got a fever, I should 
think. It looks as if I should 'ave to play nurse to- 
night. Oh, I beg pardon, mister, 'ere's your beer." 

The Irishman took the glass, held it up against the 
light, made a curious Kaffir-like tiick with hie tongue 
and threw back his head. " I guess th4t went down 



1 



LIFE 



285 



fine," said he. " One dollar and ten cents from vou, 
Miss, and I II make no charge for extras." He held 
out a great horny hand. 

Nellie Pope opened her imitation gold bag " Bin 
out o' luck I icly," she said. " Don't kr.ow whether 

l»f TT :"^u ^ '"''"■'• °'^' ^ ''"°^'" With a 
l.ttle laugh she bent over Peter again and hunted him 
over for some money. Finding a small leather case 
she opened it. It contained a wad of bills With a 
rather comical air of hj.ghty unconcern she handed 
the chauffeur two dollars. "Keep the change." she 
said. 

He lauched, pocketed the money, handed back the 
glass and went off, shutting the door behind him 

Miss Pope, who had a tidy mind as well as an 
economical nature, took the glass into the kitchen and 
finished the bottle herself. And then, without remov- 
ing her hat and gloves she sat down and counted the 
money that was contained in the case. " One hundred 
and twenty-five dollars," she said. "Some little 
hevening I " 

She put the case into her bag, where it lay among 
a handkerchief, steeped in a too-pungent scent, a small 
round box of powder, a stick of lip salve, and a few 
promiscuous dimes. Then she took off her hat — a 
curious net-like thing round which was wound two 
bright feathers — her coat and her gloves. The latter 
she blew out tenderly, almost with deference Thev 
were white kid. All these she put very car-"*- -^n a 
scrupulously clean dresser. Singing a littl she 

arranged a meal for herself on the table,— having 






IP' ill 



ile 



286 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

first laid a cloth. Dread, butter and sardines made 
their appearance, with the remains of a chocolate cake 
which had been greatly to the taste of her last nighi's 
customer, who hail not been, however, a very generous 
person. Extremely hungry, she sat down and, with 
le knowledge that her purse was full, laid on the 
ter with a more careless hand than usual. While 
she ate she enjoyed the bright dialogue of Robert 
Chambers in a magazine which, having first broken 
its back in order to keep it open, she propped up 
against a bowl. Half way through the meal, she 
jumped up suddenly. " "Ere ! " she said. " You can't 
leave that poor boy like that, you careless cat, and 'im 
lying with a fever! " She went swiftly into the bed- 
room, ind once more stood looking down at the inert 
form of poor old Peter. Then she laughed at the 
difficult) of taking off his clothes, and with a shrug 
of her shoulders started pluckily at his boots. She 
hung the coat and waistcoat over the back of one 
of the cliairs, — there were only two, — and having 
folded the trousers with great care, returned to her 
supper. It was after two o'clock when finally she 
crept quietly into bed. 



XI 



A LITTLE over twenty-four years before, Nellie 
Pope had been bom to two honest, hard-w rking coun- 
try folk. They lived in a village of about two dozen 
cottages a stone's throw from the great cross cut by 
the Romans on the chalky side of Chiltem Hills, in 



LIFE 



287 



I 



England. Her parents' quiver had already been a full 
one and there was indeed very little room in it for 
the new arrival. Eight other boys and girls had pre- 
ceded her with a rapidity which must have surprised 
nature herself, bounteous as she is. The father, a 
deep-chested, brown-bearded, very ignorant, but good- 
natured man, worked all the year round on a farm. 
His wages were fourteen shillings a week. The wife, 
who had been a domestic servant, added to the family 
pot by taking in washing and, if able, helping at the 
big house when guests were there. Neither of them 
had ever been farther away from their native village 
.nan the town whicn lay in the saucer of the valley, 
the steeple of who.se church could be seen glinting in 
the sun away below. 

Little Nellai, as she was called, was thrown on her 
own resources from the moment that she coiiM crawl 
out of the narrow kitchen door into the patch of gar- 
den where potatoes grew and eager chickens played 
the scavenger for odd morsels of food. Her eldest 
sister was her real mother, and it was she who daily 
led her little brood of dirty-faced children out into 
the beech forest which stood in strange silence behind 
the cottage. The monotonous years slipped by one 
after another, enlivened only by a death or a birth or 
a fight, or a very occasional jaunt to the town in one 
of the farm wagons, perched up on a load of hay or 
wedged in between sacks of potatoes. Little Nellai's 
pretty face and fair hair very soon made her a pet 
of the lady at the big house, and it was from this 
kind, but mistaken person, from whom she obtained 



tt-i lljitl 
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288 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

the seeds of discontent which at the early age of sixteen 
sent her into the town as a " help " in the kitchen of a 
man who Itept a garage. It was from this place, on 
the main road to London, that Nellie Pope saw life 
for the first time and became aware of the fact that 
the world was a larger place than the little village 
perched up so near the sky, and caught the fever of 
discovery from the white dust that was left behind 
by the cars which sped to London one way. and to 
Oxford the other. 

During this first year among shops and country 
louts, Nellie became aware of the fact that her pretty 
face and fair hair were very valuable assets. They 
procured her candies and many other little presents. 
They enabled her to make a c, oice among the young 
men with whom to walk out. They won smiles and 
pleasant words not only from the chauffeurs of the 
cars which came into her master s garage to be at- 
tended to, but also from their owners. Eventually it 

was one of these — more unscrupulous than most 

who, staying for a few days at the " Red Lion," 
carried Nellie away with him to London, after several 
surreptitious meetings in the shady lane at the back 
of the churchyard. There it was that she saw life 
with very naked eyes, passed quickly from one so-called 
protector to another, was taken to the United States 
by one of a troupe of gymnasts, and then deserted. 
For two years she had been numbered among the night 
birds who flit out after dark — a member of the oldest 
profession in the world. There were, however, no 
moments in her life — hard, terrible and sordid as it 



LIFE 



289 



aTth;;^^" "^' 'r^'^ '""''' '"''^ ^"ything like regret 

Idr nt"" V''''^'^' -^""^S" ^■''■'^" '^-'^ among 
the r httle gardens on the side of the hills Shf 

°"f P"' "P -i'h the fatigue, brutality and uncer 
tainty, the gross actuality of her nresent ll 1 

thought of the deadly monotony of that peaceful vil- 
lage, where summer followed winter with inexo able 
routme made her shudder. The first pr Uy froi 
wh.ch had been given her by the lady of LI holt 
.ad begun the work. The candies and the lit ^ pre 

she was, stdl very young, with a heart still kind and 
v.h a nature not yet warped and brutali .i' 

danger to any community in which she lived the de 
.berate spreader of something so frightful that c ent 

and cyduafon stood abashed in her presence. 

Vanity has much to answer for, and out of nature 

SS'^'-'^-^^-P'-^ berries are"S 

I' was in the bed of this wretched little woman that 
the unconscious Peter slept that night 

.irf fr.V'" °'u"''' '" '^' '™"""S "hen the weary 
girl faced another day Shp ,i;,l„-f ■ 1 ^ 

fact that .!,» h ^ u \ "' S™"'ble at the 

l^^luA '^ ''"'" frequently disturbed and had 

atched many of the hours go by while she attend d 
to Peter with something of the spirit of a Magdalen 
She kept repeating to herself: " Poor boy! Poor boy . 
Ijonder what his mother would say if she sa^ him 

She bathed his head, listened with astonishment to 



«." 



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f 1 



ago THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

his babbling, and tried to piece together his incoherent 
pleading with Ranken Townsend and his declarations 
to Betty of his everlasting love. She listened with 
acute interest to the broken sentences which showed her 
that this great big man-boy was endeavoring to stir up 
his father to do something which seemed to him to be 
urgent and vital, and she wondered who Graham was, 
and Nicholas. 

The first thing that she di-' when she was dressed 
and had put the kettle on her gas stove to boil, was to 
hunt through Peter's pockets to find out who he was. 
It was obvious to her that he was not so much a cus- 
tomer as a patient. She was a little afraid of accept- 
ing the whole responsibility of his case. The only 
\etttiT she found was one signed " Graham." headed 
with the address of an ofiice in Wall Street. In the 
corner of it was printed a telephone number. Graham, 
it was plain to her, was a Christian name. She could 
find no suggestion of the surname of the writer or of 
the man who lay so heavily in the next room. 

" I dunno," she said to herself. " Something has 
got to be done. That boy's in a bad way. 'E's as 
'ot as a pancake and I shouldn't think 'e's used to 
drink by the way 'e takes it. Suppose hanythinj,' 
should 'appen to 'im 'ere. I should look funny. What 
'ad I better do?" 

What she did was to have breakfast. During this 
hasty meal she thought things over — all her hard-won 
practicality at work in her brain. Then she put on 
her befeathered hat and her white gloves, a second- 
best pair of shoes, and went out and along the street. 



LIFE 



291 



and into the nearest drug store. Here she entered 
tlie telephone booth and asked for the number that was 
printed on Graham's note. By that time it was just 
after nine o'clock. Having complied with the sharp 
request to slip the necessary nickel into the slot, an 
impatient voice recited the name of the firm. "I 
want to speak to Mr. Graham," she said. " No such 
name—? Well, keep your 'air on. Mister. I may 
be a client — millionaire's wife — for all you know. 
I'm asking for Mr. Graham and as 'e's a friend of 
mine, and probably your boss, I'm not bothering about 
his surname. You know that as well as I do — Do 
I mean Mr. Graham Guthrie? Well, yes. Who else 
should I mean ? " She gave a chuckle of triumph 
"All right! I'll 'old on." 

In a moment or two there was another voice on the 
telephone. " How d'you do? " she said. " I'm hold- 
ing a letter signed by you, to 'Dear Peter,'— Ah! 
I thought that would make you jump— It doesn't 
matter what my name is. What's that — ? Yes, I do 
know where he is. I've been loo' '^g after 'im all 
night. Come up to my place ri^... away and I'll 
be there to meet you. Dear Peter is far from well." 
She gave her address, and feeling immensely relieved 
left the bo.x. But before she left the store she treated 
herself to a large bo.x of talcum powder and a medium- 
sized bottle of her favorite scent, paying the bill with 
Peter's money. She considered herself to be fully 
justified, 

On the way home she dropped into a delicatessen 
shop and bought some sausages, a bottle of pickles, a 



292 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



It 



m 

I! '■ ii. 



queer German salad of raw herring chopped up with 
carrots and onions, and carried these away with her. 
On her way up-stairs — the bald, hard stairs — she 
was greeted by a half-dressed person whose hair was 
in curl-papers and who had opened her door to pick 
up a daily paper which lay outride. " Hello, Miss 
Pope! Anything doing? " " Yes," said Nellie Pope, 
" the market's improving," and she laughed and went 
on. 

Peter was still lying inert when she bent over him 
once more. She felt his head again, put the covers 
about his shoulders, pulled the blind more closely over 
the window, and after having put the food away re- 
turned to make up her face. She wasn't going to be 
caught looking what she called " second-rate " by this 
Mr. Graham Guthrie when he came. 

There bein^ no need to practice rigid economy at 
that moment, she gave herself a glass of beer and sat 
down to pass the time with her magazine, in which 
life was regarded through very rosy spectacles. 

VVher. finally she opened the door, in response to a 
loud and insistent ring, her answer to Graham's abrupt 
question: "Is my brother here?" was "Yes; why 
shouldn't he be ? " She didn't like the tone. The 
word " here " was underlined in an unnecessarily un- 
pleasant manner. 

XII 

" What's m}- brother doing here' " asked Graham. 
" What d'you s'pose ? Better go and ask 'im your- 
self." 



LIFE 



293 



"Where is he?" 

"In bed, if you must know." The girl answered 
sharply. Sh-; found her caller supercilious. She 
followed him into the bedroom, telling herself that 
this was a nice way to be treated for all the trouble 
that she had taken. 

Graham bent over the bed. " Good God ! " he said. 
" What's the matter with him? " 

"Drink!" said the girl drily. 
Drink! He never drinks." 

" Then 'e must 'ave fallen otf the water-wagon into 
a barrel of alcohol and opened 'is mouth too wide. 
Also 'e's got a fever." 

Graham turned on the girl. "How did he get 
here ? " 

"In a cab. You don't s'pose I carried 'im, 
d'you ? " 

" Where'd you find him ? " 

" I didn't find 'im. Some one gave 'im to me as a 
present — a nice present, I must say." 

" Don't lie to me ! " cried Graham. " And don't be 
impudent." 

"Impudent!" cride Nellie Pope, shrilly. "Here, 
you'd better watch what you're saying. I don't stand 
any cheek, I don't, neither from you nor anybody 
else, and I'm not in the habit of lying. I tell you I was 
made a present of 'im. 1 was told to take 'im 'ome 
by a young fellow on Forty-eighth Street, who 'ad 
called up a cab." 

" Forty-eighth Street,— are you sure? ' 

" Well, if I don't know the streets, who does ? The 



\\§tk 



i 



1 1 1 

!• Ill 






1 , 



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294 THE SINS OF TH'' CHILDREN 

young fellow was a gent. He didn't talk, he gave 
orders. He was tall and slight and he 'ad kinky hair. 
Quite a nut. English, he was, any one could tell 
that." 

"Good Gdd!" thought Graham — " Kenyon." He 
sat down on the bed as though he had received a blow 
in the middle of his back. Only an hour before he 
had telephoned to Kenyon to say good-bye and wish 
him a pleasant crossing, and all that he said about 
Peter was that they had seen each other the night be- 
fore. " No doubt he's all right," he had said, in 
answer to Graham's anxious question. What did it 
all mean? What foul thing had Kenyon done? 

Graham had been up all night waiting for his 
brother. He had good news for him. He had pulled 
himself ti jether and gone to see Ranken Townsend 
during the time that Peter had been walking the streets. 
To the artist he had made a clean breast of everything, 
so that he might, once for all, set Peter right in the 
eyes of his future father-in-law. That was the least 
that he could do. He had carried away from the 
studio in his pocket a short, generous and impulsive 
letter from the artist, asking Peter's forgiveness for 
not having accepted his word of honor. Armed with 
this, Graham had waited while hour after hour slipped 
by, growing more and more anxious as Peter did not 
appear. At breakfast he told his mother — in case 
she should discover that Peter had not returned — that 
he had stayed the night in Kenyon's rooms, as they 
had much to talk about and one or two things to 
arrange. He had been in the house when Kenyon 



LIFE 



295 



had rung up, apologizing for being unable to come 
round, and thanking Mrs. Guthrie for her kindness and 
hospitality. 

And there lay Peter inanimate and stupefied. In 
the name of all that was horrible, what had happened? 
Graham got up and faced the girl again. " You 
mustn't mind my being abrupt and rude," he said. 
" I'm awfully sorry. But this is my brother, my best 
pal, and I've been terribly anxious about him, and you 
don't know — nobody knows — what it means to me 
to see him like this." 

"Ah! Now you're talking," said Nellie Pope. 
" Treat me nicely and there's nothing I won't do for 
you. If you ask me — and if I don't know a bit 
more about life than you do I ought to — I have a 
slirewd idea that your brother was made drunk, — that 
IS, (loped. 'E was quite gone when 'e was put into the 
cab, and from the way that kinky-headed chap laughed 
as we drove off together,— I mean me and your 
brother.— I should think that 'e 'ad it in for him, but 
of course I don't know hanything about that. Per- 
haps you do." 

Graham shook his head. " No," he said ; " I don't 
know anything about it either. But what are we 
going to do with him, that's the point? He's ill, that's 
obvious, and a doctor ought to see him at once." 

" That's what I think," said the girl, " and I don't 
think 'e ought to be moved, 'e's so frightfully 'ot. 'E 
might catch pneumonia, or something. What I think 
you'd better do is to call up a doctor at once, get him 
to give your brother a dose and give me directions as 



ill 
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1^1; 



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296 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

to what to do. 'E can stay 'ere until 'e's all right 
again, and I'll nurse 'im." 

" Yes, but • hy should you ?" 

" Oh, bless you, that's all right. I'm glad to have 
something to do. Time hangs heavy. Besides, the 
poor boy is just like a baby. I like 'im and you 
needn't be afraid that I shall try to get anything out 
of 'im, because I shan't." 

Graham snatched eagerly at the proffered assist- 
ance. He was intensely grateful. " Have you a tele- 
phone here ? " he asked. 

Nellie Pope laughed. " What d'you take me for ? " 
she said. " I'm not a chorus lady. When I want to 
use the 'phone I pop round to the drug store and have 
a nickel's worth. That's how I got on to you." 

Graham caught up his hat and left the apartment 
quickly. One of his college friends was a doctor and 
had just started to practice. He would ask him to 
come and see Peter. He agreed with the girl that it 
would be running a great risk to move Peter, and he 
was all against taking him home in his present con- 
dition. It would only lead to more lies and would 
certainly throw his mother into a dreadful state of 
an.xiety. 

While he was gone, Nellie Pope set to work to tidy 
up the bedroom. She put her boots away in a closet, 
got out a clean bedspread, rubbed the powder off her 
mirror and arranged her dressing-table. This doctor, 
whoever he was, should find her apartment as tidy as 
she could make it. It was a matter of pride with her. 
She still had some of that left. One thing, however. 



LIFE 



297 



she was determined about. The doctor must not be 
allowed to look too closely at her. 



XIII 

Graham came out of the telephone box in the drug 
store. Dr. Harding was unable, he said, to leave his 
office for an hour and a half, when he would drive to 
Nellie Pope's address and meet Graham in her apart- 
ment. 

But as he was hurrying back to Peter's bedside, 
Graham drew up suddenly. The rage that had en- 
tered into his soul when he had gatherc<l that Kenyon 
was responsible for his brother's condition broke into 
a blaze. Almost before he knew what he was doing 
or what he was going to do when he got there, he hailed 
a passing taxi and told the man to drive to Kenyon's 
apartment. He remembered that the liner was not 
due to leave until two-thirty. Kenyon would there- 
fore be at home for some time yet. He told himself 
that he mitst see him — he must. He owed it to 
Peter first, and then to himself as Peter's brother and 
pal, to make Kenyon answer for this dirty and disloyal 
trick. Yes, that was it, he told himself as the cab 
bowled quickly to its destination. Kenyon must be 
made to answer, or, at any rate, to offer some ex- 
tenuating explanation if he could. It would be some- 
thing that would make him wake up in the middle of 
the night and curse himself if he let the opportunity 
slip out of his hands to face Kenyon up before he went 




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298 THE SIN'S OF THE CHILDREN 

immaculately, ui 'questioned anil perhaps unpunished 
out of their lives. How could he face Peter when he 
was well again? How could he look at his own re- 
flection in the looking-glass if, for reasons of his per- 
sonal admiration of Kenyon and disinclination to force 
things to an issue, he let him escape without finding 
out the truth? 

The cab stopped. Graham sprang out, paid the 
man, ran up the flight of stone steps and rang the bell. 
None too quickly it was answered by a girl with a mass 
of black hair and a pair of Irish eyes which had been 
put in with a dirty linger. 

" Is Mr. Kenyon in? " 

" Yes." 

The hall was filled with baggage. A very distinct 
" K " was on all the baggage tabs. 

"All right!" said Graham. "I know my way 
up." 

Rather sharply Kenyon called out " Come in ! 
when Graham knocked on the door of the sitting- 
room. 

In a much-waisted suit of brown clothes, a brown 
tie and a pair of brown shoes which were so highly 
polished as to look almost hot, Kenyon was standing 
with the telephone receiver to his ear. He was say- 
ing " Good-bye " to one of the men to whom Graham 
had been proud to introduce him and whose pockets he 
had already lightened by a fairly considerable sum. 
He finished speaking before turning to see who had en- 
tered, and hung up the receiver. 

" Oh, hello, my dear fellow ! " he said. " I didn't 



,]|i iH 



LIFE 



299 



expect to see you. M.nv extremely and peculiarly 
pleasant ! " ' 

Graham wondered if he wo-.-ld think so by the time 
that he had done with him. liut, with a strong effort 
of wdl, he kept his sclf-contro!. He intended to let 
Kenyon give himself away. That seemed to be the 
best plan. 

Kenyon ga -e him no chance to speak. " Not satis- 
fied with wishing me ' bon voyage ' over the wire, eh? 
By jove, this is most friendly of you. You-!l help 
kdl the boring time before I drive off to the docks 
with all my duly and laboriously labelled luggage 
Make yourself at home, old bo)-. and give me your 
news." 

He took his hat and stick and yellow gloves out 
of the one comfortable chair anci waved his hand 
toward it. 

Graham remained standing. Having seen Peter 
lying in such a bed, inert and humiliated,— Peter, of 
all men,— he resented Kenyon's suave cordiality and 
glib complacency. " Pve just come from Peter," he 
said. 

Kenyon burst out laughing. "Oh, do tell me' 
How does he look ? Is his head as big as the dome of 
St. Paul's this morning? It ought to be. I gave him 
the sort of mixture that would blow most men sky- 
high. It's never been known to fail." 

"It hasn't?" said Graham. "So you did give it 
to him!" he added inwardlv. "Good! You'll nav 
for that." ' '^ ^ 

" I *as amp.zed to sec the thirsty way our abstem- 



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300 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



.J 



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ious Peter lapped it down. I've a sneaking notion 
that he liked it. It was on an empty stomach, too. 
He seems to have been in an emotional mood yester- 
day — tramping the streets. Ye gods, how these 
sentimentalists go to pieces under the influence of a 
bit of a girl! He came up here fairly late, just after 
Belle — I mean, just after " 

"Belle? Was Belle here last night, then?" Gra- 
ham's voice rang out sharply. 

" Yes," said Kenyon, with a curious smile. After 
all, what did it matter now who knew? He was on 
the verge of sailing and he hoped that he might never 
see this family of Guthries again. " Yes, Belle was 
here." 

There was a look in the corners of Kenyon's eyes 
that sent a spasm of fear all through GrahaT-',-, h.:Ay. 
What was this man not capable of doing since he had 
deliberately turned Peter, his friend, over to a street- 
walker, having first rendered him senseless? "Then 
I'm here for Belle, as well," he said to himself, " and 
whatever you did you'll pay for that too." 

There was an empty cardboard collar-box on the 
floor. Kenyon gave it a spiteful kick. " Yes, Belle 
and I had, — what shall I call it? — a rather tender 
parting scene here last night, — quite tender, in fact. 
All very amusing in the sum total of things, eh? I 
was peculiarly ready for Peter when he dropped in. 
And, by the way, how on earth did you find out where 
he spent the night, learning, I trust, to shake off some 
of his Quaker notions? " 

" She rang me up," said Graham, whose fists were 



n,i!.. 



LIFE 



301 



Gra- 



c enchcl so fjjhtly that every finger contained a pulse. 
He was .l„,ost ready to hi, -aln.ust. ile was only 

treSry "'" °"'"' '"""^ *"' ""' "^"'^ '^°^' 
•• Oh. did she? Found your name and address in 
ieters pocket. 1 suppose. Well, she came along last 
n.ght a the exact psychological moment. The alacrity 
wuh winch she took dear old drunken Peter off my 
hands at the „,erest hint had a certain amount of 
pathos ahout.t.//.', off his in.maculate perch now, 
eh Ih-s eft his tuppenny halo on a pretty sordid 
hat-peg. at last, eh? He'll thank me for having done 
It for h.m one of these days, Ml be hound " 

Graham went slowly o^•er to him. " Not one of 
these days," he said with e.xtreme distinctness, 
i hrough me. thank God, to-day — now " 
Kenyon darted a quick look at the man who had 
always caused him a considerable amount of inward 
laughter, whom he had labelled as a precocious pro- 
vmcal. He saw that his face had gon. as white as a 
stone — that his nostrils were all distended and that 
his eyes seemed to have become bloodshot No 
coward, Kenyon had an inherent detestation of a 
fracas, especially when he was dressed for the street 
He decided to avert a row with a touch of autocratic 
authority. It had worked before. 

" Let there be no vulgar <lis,,lay of pugilism here," 
he said, sharply. "If you don't like my methods, get 
out! ° 

Everything in Graham's nature seemed to have be- 
came concentrated in one big bail of desire to hit and 



ii 
■1 



Uli 



Mn 



he 

for 

fill. 



302 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

hit, and hit again — to hear the heavy thud of his 
blows on that man's body — to see him lying squirm- 
ing and broken ^.1 t.ie carpet with a receipt in full upon 
his face for all that he had done. 

" Put up your fist," he said, " or I shall have to hit 
you cold." 

" Curse you, get out ! " cried Kenyon, catching 
Graham one on the mouth before he was ready. 

Graham laughed. He needed that. By jove, 
needed that. He let out his left. "That's 
Peter," he said. 

Kenyon staggered. His left eye seemed to 
With a yell of pain he jumped in and hit wildly. 

Graham waited a second chance anu got it. " And 
that's for Belle," he said. And his knuckles bled with 
the contact of teeth. 

Kenyon went in again. Chairs fell over and the 
table was pushed aside. And all the time that he 
failed to reach Graham's face he screamed like a horse 
whose stable is in flames. 

But Graham, cold, icy cold, and cooler than he had 
ever been -in his life, played with him. He had never 
been so much a man in his life. He warded and 
guarded ant" waited hoping that he might once more 
feel the sting of pain that would make his last blow 
unforgetable — epoch-making. 

He got it, — but with Kenyon's foot. 

And again Graham laughed, — for joy — for very 
joy. Now he could hit, and hit honestly. 

"You little gentleman!" he said. "You perfect 
little gentleman — I've paid you for Peter, and for 



LIFE 



303 



with rn'iidred per cent. 



Belle. Here's my debt, 
terest and then some.' 

cault T"' ''"■'' "f "^'^ '""'" ^'" f"" shoulder, 
caught Kenyon on the po>:. - f the ,aw, Hfted him 

of hi's^al" '"' '^ "' '"" '''''''' ™ "^^ '--'' 

For several moments, breathing hard, Graham stood 

Zdv ?uu-^ f"" "' '^' '•'^''evened, ttnconscious 
dandy, w..h h,s l,ad blood all over his face and 
clothes His collar had sprung, his beautiful brown 

rhM .^°"f '■°""'' ""'■'' '"' ''''■ '"^ -^hi" '••"ffs were 
dabbled w,th red, one eye was bunged up and his mouth 
was all swollen. 

tJ^.Z ^'f!"'" ""^ *' '^'^"' ^"'l ^^•'"'«= ^vaiting 
id.ed himself up in front of the glass in which he now 
felt that he could look. 
The girl came in and gave a shrill cry 
"Just see to that man, please. Cold water at once 
will be the best thing." 

He caught up hi.s hat, went out, shut the door, ran 
down-stairs, let himself into the street and was out of 

hSelf '"*° ^ *''''"'' ^'^°''' """ ^"^ ''^'' recovered 
"Paid in full," he said breathlessly to himself, as 
he bound up his knuckles—" in full." 



XIV 

With wide-eyed anxiety, Graham, having driven 
.straight back, waited l„r the doctor's verdict. The 



304 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



• i ''^ . 

,.! .ill ■! 



\i •iim 



U.r\'''M' 



two young men stood alone in the little sitting-room. 
With a touch of delicacy, which they were quick to 
notice, Nellie Pope made no attempt to follow them in. 

" Um ! " said Dr. Harding. " A very close shave 
from pneumonia. He can't be moved yet, unless, of 
course, you'd like me to send for an ambulance. 
That's up to you." 

Graham shook his head. " No," he said. " I don't 
want that. I think he'd better be — I mean I don't 
want my father — Oh, well, I dare say you under- 
stand." 

" Yes," said Dr. Harding, " I'm afraid I do. God 
knows what the percentage of disaster is from men 
having soused themselves like that. It seems to me 
that your brother, who had obviously caught a severe 
chill, must have set out deliberately to make himself 
drunk, and mixed everything in sight." 

Graham held his peace. But his blood tingled at 
the knowledge that he had given Kenyon something 
that he would never forget and which would make it 
necessary for him to remain in the seclusion of his 
state-room for some days at least. 

The young doctor sat down and wrote a prescrip- 
tion and went on (|uickly to tell Graham what to do. 
Finally he rose. " I'll look in again this evening," he 
said. "You'll be here, won't you? Of course we 
shall get him all right in a couple of days or so, — that 
is, right enough to go home, — but " 

"But what?" asked Graham. 

" Well," said Dr. Harding, " I may have to 
leave the rest of the treatment to your father." He 



LIFE 



305 



irLTl'"'' "^'"' '"'" "" '^'^ -y '° the door. 

" Mr. Guthrie, you're wanted." 

Graham turned sharply. Nellie Pnnp „.of- 
the rinrfnr 1,. 1 ^^'^"'e i ope, waiting unti 

he doctor had gone, put her head in at the door 
Come on ,„.- she said. " Come on in - " 

over'peTeV^or^' '\^ ""'^ "" ''^^^-^ -^ -^-^ 
over Feter. Opening his eyes with some difficultv 

as ough they hurt him. Peter looked about "xhe 

he wIIT"^" ''''' '''' °f "^« g->' -as strange 
l,''^"^' '^"l '^'""'^ '° '^e'ong to a dream. Then 
he^recognued his brother. "You got away, then" 

" Got away ? " 

saw It ^^ ^°"'- ''•'"' ' '^'"^^•' The last time I 
aw jou. you were carrying mother along the passage 
I could hardly see you for smoke. I it Be^'v o^^' 
."to the street and dived back into the hou e Tath 
was t e only one left^ Good God, what aw^u, ir^ 
i he library „as red hot. I got into the middle of it 

'' No." said Graham. " He's all right " 
. A httle smile broke out on Peter's face and he 

s.ghed and turned over and went to sleep again '^ 
Nellie Pope made a comical grimace. "I don't 
wonder that 'e's been dreaming about a fire 'she 
whispered. She arranged the covers over Peter s 
shcnilder with a deft and sympathetic hand, and then 
took Graham s arm and led him out into the passage. 






i' m 




, 1 



' 'it 



306 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

"You've got your work. Push off. I'll see to the 
medicine when it comes. Don't you worry. Get 
back as soon as you can, and while you're away I'll 
look after 'im like a sister. I like 'im, poor boy ! My 
goodness 1 why don't somebody put the lid on all the 
distilleries? Half the troubles in the world 'ud be pre- 
vented that way! " 

Very reluctantly Graham acted on the girl's sugges- 
tion that he should return to his office. He was in 
the middle of very important work. He held out his 
hand. " You're a damned good little sort," he said, 
" and I'm intensely grateful." 

Nellie Pope's eyes filled with tears. It had been a 
long time since she had been treated so humanly or 
had her hand so warmly clasped. But she screwed 
out a laugh and waved her hand to Graham as he let 
himself out. 

She spent the rest of the day in and out of the bed- 
room. With her eyes continually on her clock, she 
devoted herself untiringly and with the utmost effi- 
ciency to looking after her patient. To the very in- 
stant she gave him his medicine and said cheery, pleas- 
ant things to him every time she had to wake him up 
to administer it. It was an odd and wonderful day 
for her, as well as for Peter, — filled with many touches 
of curious comedy, the comedy of hfe — and many 
moments of queer pathos. Once she had to listen to a 
little outburst of incoherent love, when Peter insisted 
on telling her what an angel Betty was. Once she was 
obliged to hear what Peter had to say about his father, 
from which she gathered that this man was responsible 



!;ii 



i 



LIFE 



307 



for the burning house from which this boy had only 
just been able to escape alive, having saved his family 
Ihe obsession of fire remained with Peter until the 
evenmg, when he woke up with a clear brain, and 
having taken his medicine, looked at her with new 
eyes. 

" VVhat's all this? " he asked quietly. " Where am 
i, ana who are you ? " 
"Oh, that's all right," said Nellie Pope. 
'Is it ? Are you a nurse ? " 
" Yes," she said. 
" Is this a hospital ? " 
" Yes,— that is, a nursing home," she said 
" Oh ! "^ said Peter. " Where's Kenyon ? " 
" I don't know, dearie." 

"What on earth was that filth that he gave me to 
clnnk? I carried the books into his room, and then 
m hanged if I can remember- I've got a most 
frightful headache. Every time I move my head 
seems to split in half. How long have I been here? 
Was 1 poisoned, or what? " 

" Now don't you talk or you'll get me into trouble 
\ou go off to sleep like a good bov. You'll be all 
right in the morning." 

"Shall I? That's good." And he heaved a big 
sigh and obeyed. It was extraordinary how sleep 
came to his rescue. 

He was still asleep when Graham came back at six 
o clock. Nellie Pope opened the door to him. " 'E's 
geiung on fine," she said. " You can take that line 
out of your forehead. 'E's been talking quite sensihlv 



tl 



p* 



,1 ■ 



I', 



[ ! 



hp. 



■ :«. -'M 






308 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

to me. What I don't know about your father and 
your family isn't worth knowing." 

Graham tiptoed into the bedroom, drew a chair up 
to the side of the bed and sat down. And while he 
waited for the time to arrive for Peter's ne.xt dose 
many strange things ran through his brain, — his own 
precocity — his own desire to be smart and become a 
man of the world — his own evening in the little shabby 
the?, rical lodgings in Oxford with Kenyon — his 
dealings with Ita Strabosck — the night he had spent 
in his bed-room w hen Peter took his razors away — 
that awful hour when he sneaked into his father's 
laboratory and under the pressure of great trouble 
forged his name. The only thing that gave him any 
sense of pleasure out of all this was the fact that he 
carried in his pocket a warm and spontaneous letter 
from I^anken Townsend, which he knew v^ould be 
better to Peter than pints of medicine. 

And while he sat watching, Nellie Pope ate her 
sausage in the kitchen and finished the instalment of 
the love stcjry in her magazine. 

What a world, O my masters ! 



XV 



It was late when Graham let himself into his 
father's house that night. He had done many things 
that day. He had also been through much anxiety. 
He felt that he deserved the right to turn in at once 
and sleep the sleep of the just. But Kenyon had said 



LIFE 



309 



r- I . r<-niark lived most nnpTcii,, ;„ 

He was well aware of the fact that Reir. t,. 1 k 
-ethjn, .ore than mere,, "ttt'ed t 'kLZ" 
He had even hoped that she might be eneLd to h 

wmmm 

mdependent girl, with strong emotions ^( ' P''"°"'' 

-c.„ ,otr.f:„ iz ?;*:a7cr„?; 

ta n,.nas,<l .ift n. ligh,,,, „, |,J, ?, .te „* 



I 



3IO 



THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 




PI 


i • ■ , 


] ' 


"'I ■■■ 



HI 



,1 i 



knew that he could not say anything that would 
prejudice him in her estimation, even by telling her 
what he had done to Peter. She would be al to 
produce reasons, however far-fetched, to make that 
incident seem less ugly. There was, however, the 
chance — just the chance — that she would be open to 
conviction. After much inward argument and hesi- 
tation he decided to go up to Belle's room, and if she 
were not asleep, to have a little talk with her and find 
out how the land lay, and if he could see any possibility 
of adding to his punishment of Kenyon to do so by 
putting him in his true colour before Belle. 

It took him some time to comt to this decision and 
screw up his courage to face Belle. For nearly an 
hour he paced up and down the quiet library, smoking 
cigarette after cigarette. Belle was likely to tell him 
to go and hang himself if she considered that he was 
butting into her private affairs. He knew this, — no 
one better. He had often done so before. He de- 
cided, however, to run this risk and, in the hope that 
she might still be up, went upstairs and stood for a 
moment listening outside her door. He could hear 
no sound in her room, no movement, no creak of a 
drawer being opened or shut. He knocked softly and 
waited, — was just going to knock again when the door 
was opened. 

With her beautiful black hair done for the night 
and a pink kimono over her night-dress. Belle stood in 
the doorway with an expression of surprised inquiry 
in her eyes. These two had not taken the trouble to 
be very good friends for some years. 



Xii 



LIFE 



3" 



"Oh, it's yoit, Graham," she said, but made no 
move. 

"It's awfully late, I know; but, if you're not too 
t.red, may I come in?" Graham hated himself for 
bemg self-conscious. It seemed absurd with his own 
sister. He wished then that he had not been quite 
so selfish and self-contained since he had considered 
hmiself to be a man, and had gone out of his way to 
Keep up his old boyish relations with Belle. 

He was a little surprised when she said, " Come in 
dear," and made way for him. He noticed quickly as 
soon as she stood und^r the light that her eyes were 
red and swollen, and that there was a most unusual 
air about her of gentleness and dejection. He noticed 
too, with immense relief, that a large photograph of 
Kenyon m hunting-kit which he had seen standing on 
her dressmg-table had been taken away. A good sign I 
The room was very different from Ethel's. It had 
nothing of that rather an.xmic ultra-modern air so 
carefully cultivated by the younger girl. On the con- 
trary, everything in it was characteristic of Belle It 
was full of ripe colours and solid comfort. A mass of 
silver things jostled each other untidily on the dressing- 
table. A collection of monthly fashion papers with 
vivid decorative covers lay on a heap on a chair, and a 
novel, open in the middle, had been flung, face down 
on the sofa. There was no attempt at carefully 
shaded lights. They were all turned on and were re- 
flected from the long glasses in a large mahogany 
wardrobe. The carpet all round the dressing-table 
was bespattered with white powder. 



i 



I i. 



312 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

" I was reading when I heard your knock," she 
said, — " at least I was pretending to read. Sleep was 
miles away." 

Graham sat down, hanging a pair of stockings over 
the arm of the chair. " Why? " he asked. 

" Oh, I don't know, I've been thinking, — for a 
change. It's such a new thing for me that it knocked 
sleep out of my head. Not nice thuusjhts, either." 

She seemed glad to talk, Graham thought. " .\uy- 
thing the matter. Bee ? " he asked. 

" I gue.ss it's nearly a century since you called me 
Bee," she said with a queer little laugh. " Would you 
say that anything was the matter if you had just picked 
yourself out of the ruins of a "^ouse that had fallen 
about your car ' " 

Graham got up suddenly, sat-(jn the sofa at Belle's 
side and put his arms round her shoulder. " Don't 
dodge behind phrases, old girl," he said. "Just tell 
me in plain English. Let me help you if I can." 

But Belle shook him off, — not angry with him so 
much as with herself. She detested \\eakness. This 
unexpected kindness on Graham's part made her feel 
like crying again. In her heart she longed for some 
one to who"i she could pour out her soul, and Gra- 
ham's affection almost caught her before she could 
stop herself. Not to him, she told herself, nor to any 
member of her family, was she going to confess the 
sort of thoughts that had choked her brain ever since 
that hour alone with Kenyon. Not even to Betty, to 
whom she told most things, was she going to lay bare 
the fact that, in the cold light of day, she found herself 



iiHs: 



LIFE 



313 



m«,t of her I„ fact, she ha.l herself only that night 
begun to real.ze the state of her feehngs and was Si 
suffering under the discovery. 

Graham, whose nature and character were as much 
.ke those of Belle as though they were twi s caT,gh 

pnJe and a desire to tell the truth. It was as plain 

1 h'ad V'°"'' ^'l'-^' ''''''>■ ™"f-- 'hat Ke" 
n him H T'"""^' ^^■'"'^'^ h^'' shaken her belief 
00m h^^h' P''°*°«"P''- -''•^h had dominated her 

room, had been put away. Her eves were red and 

-ollen. All his sympathy was stirred. At tie same 
™e he rejoiced in the eager thought that he hid i 

m^h.s power to dear Kenyon finally out of her 

He set to work quietly. " I'm going to tell you 
about Peter," he said. *> fc ^" >ou 

She turned quickly. "Peter? There's nothing 
wrong with Peter, is there? " ^ 

to 1?!°'' ^''Z'J'T ""'•' ^^'""""^ *here is. In, going 
to tell you all I know. We're all in this.-throu4 
Kenyon. and because we've been thoughtless fools 
running amuck through life." 

The idea of there being anything wrong with Peter 
brought Belle quickly out of self-analysis and tL self 
indulgence of her own pain. " Don't beat about the 
bush, she said. " Please tell me. You told mother 
ftis^morning that he had stayed with Nicholas last 

"That was a lie. This is what happened. After 



I 



J \' 



314 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

a rotten day worrying about an upset with Betty, he 
went to see Kenyon late last night. He'd had nothing 
to eat. I believe because Kenyon had been disap- 
pointed about something earlier in the evening, — but 
I only make a guess at that from the way he looked 
when I saw him to-day, — he deliberately took it out 
on Peter." 

"On Peter? How?" Belle understood this dis- 
appointment only too well. 
" He made him drunk." 
"Drunk!— Peter!" 

" Dead drunk, — by doping him with a fearful mix- 
ture of all the drinks he had. He had always threat- 
ened to do it, and this time he caught Peter napping 
That was a foul enough thing to do anyway, but i( 
didn't satisfy him. He got him into the street and in 
stead of putting him into a cab and sending him honu 

he cal'p'' a passing woman " 

"Oh, no!" cried Belle. 

" Yes, — and gave Peter over to her and there he': 
been, in her bed, in a little hole of an apartment, il 
and poisoned, ever since." 
"Oh, my God! " cried Belle. 
" The woman rang me up early this morning and 
got Ralph Harding to go and see what he could do 
I've been there most of the day, — except for ten min 
utes with Kenyon — the best ten minutes I ever pu 
in — ever." 

He got up and stood looking at Belle with a glean 
of such intense satisfaction in his eyes that she guesse( 
what he had done. 



Ilil 



LIFE 



315 



"Thl fu°"' ^'''""''''' ^"""^ Kenyon." he added. 

whose charm of manner got us all at Oxford, and who 
was made one of the family by father and mote 
when he came to this country. I hit him for Peter, 

to-day. I left h,m lymg on the floor in his room, 
all over h.s own black blood, and if ever I meet him 
agam. m any part of the world, at any time of my life 
II give h.m another dose of the same sort — for Peter 
for you^and for me- Thafs what I came to tcli 

He bent forward and kissed her, turned round and 
lett the room. 

That was Kenyon, Graham had said 

Standing where he had left her, with this story of 
utter and mcredible treachery in her ears, Belle added 
another count to Graham's indictment.- that of try- 
-ng to seduce her without even the promise of mar- 
riage, when her grief at parting with him made her 

Fo: i aomtir. she stood chilled and stunned. That 
was Ke.y,.n -■ All along she had been fooled -all 
along he had been playing with her as though she 
amounted merely to a light creature with whom men 
passed the time. It was due to her father,- of all 
men. her father.- that she stood there that night. 
hum>l,ated but unharmed, with her pride all slashed 
and bleedmg, her self-respect at a discount, but with 
nothmg on her conscience that would make her face 
the passing days with fear and horror. 



I 






316 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

She suddenly flamed into action. " Yes ; that's 
Kenyon ! " she thought, and making a sort of blazing 
pounce on the middle drawer of her dressing-table she 
pulled it open, took out the large photograph of a man 
in hunting-kit, and with queer, choking cries of rage 
and scorn, tore it into shreds and stamped upon the 
pieces. 

XVI 

Belle got very little sleep that night. Having 
finally decided, on top of her talk with Graham, that 
Kenyon had intended to treat her much in ihe same 
way as he had treated Peter, she endeavored to look 
back honestly and squarely at the whole time dur- 
ing which that super-individualist had occupied her 
thoughts. She saw herself as a very foolish, naive 
girl, without balance, without reserve and without 
the necessary caution in her treatment of men which 
should come from proper training and proper ad- 
vice. 

She laid no blame upon her mother, — that excel- 
lent little woman whose God-sent optimism made her 
believe that all her children were without flaw and 
that the world was full of people with good hearts 
and good intentions. She blamed only herself, and 
saw plainly enough that she had allowed her head to 
be turned by her father's sudden acquisition of wealth 
which made it unnecessary for her to be anything more 
than a sort of butterfly skimming lightly through life 
without any duties to perform — without any work 



llii 



LIFE 



317 



herTi"/ '': -"ention- without any hobbies to fill 
her mi-- and give her ambition. She felt lii,. . 

z:'\rrr''' '-- bei'g;::'!:^^ x 

tuS'. \,?°' ^^ '°'"^ ^'^'"^ '^"i'lent, had been 
nT.H f ""^ *''' "^'■^ ^'^^^ °f «" aby s. It wa^ 

."f si"i •; r;'^ T'' "^^^^ ^-^'' ■" ^" h- 

w^^^t^s^^^tiir^irett-r 

peoally the incident in the back-water with Kenfon a„d 
he n,ght of the ball at Wadham College. Thesew' re 
o owed .„ her mind by the scene in the library „ he 
fathers house, and finally that dangerous hour n 
Kenyon s rooms when, but for the intefvention of h ^ 
man who seemed of so little account, she might have 
been placed among those unfortunat; girls S whom 
the world talks very harshly and who pay a te ribk 
pnce for the.r foolishness and ignorance' ^And vl 

Seen 'sine! f "'' '7'-'''" "^"^ ==•"" "^^ ^^e ha" 
been smce those good, strenuous days of hers at her 

college when she had intended to nfake art ler n,i 

s.on m hfe, she told herself with a characterist tou h 

of humour that the reformed criminal was a very good 

to Ethel and .mprove the occasion. It was verv ob 
V.US to her that if she did not do this nobody ,1m ' 
and she was eager to give a sort of proof of the fact' ' 
that she was grateful for her own escape by giving ' 



"fil 
'It- 



A 



II 



i'^^i' 



318 THE STXS OF THE CHILDREN 

her young sister the benefit of her suffering. And 
so she put on her dressing-gown and went to her sis- 
ter's room — the little sister of whom she was so fond 
and proud. 

Ethel was sitting at her dressing-table doing her 
hair. There was a petulant and discontented expres- 
sion on her face. Still shamming illness, she had not 
yet recovered from the smart of what she called Jack's 
impertinence. There was a surprise in store for her, 
— she who believed that she had managed so success- 
fully to play the ostrich. 

"Why, Belle 1" she said. "What's the matter? 
You look as though you had been in a railway acci- 
dent." 

Belle sat down, not quite sure how she would begm 
or of the sort of reception that she would receive. 
She always felt rather uncouth in the presence of this 
calm, self-assured, highly finished little sister of hers. 
"Well," she said, "I have been through a sort of 
railway accident and a good many of my bones seem 
to have been broken, — that's why I'm here. I want 
to stop you, if I can, from going into the same 
train." 

" I don't think I quite understand you." 
" I don't suppose you do, my dear, but you shall — 
believe me." And then, in the plainest English she 
gave Ethel the story of her relations with Kenyon, 
without in any way sparing herself. And when she 
came to the parting scene in Kenyon's rooms she 
painted a picture that was so strong and vivid — so ap- 
palling in its proof of foolishness, that she made even 



LIFE 



319 



ene'j'ejT ''' ^""'^'^^^"^^ ^"^ ^ --'^^ ^"ge, fright- 

you an this fo'r a feason Yo thinklat '"' ''" '°'' 
wise little nerson uaa' u ^' y°" ''« a very 

How d you know that? "cried Ethel 

I thought It was rather a good ioke j\.^ .' 
m-red you for the cunning 4y in'^ich v T. '"" 

for a chanee and tn tr-,, *« t, • . ^^ game 
ange, and to try to bear in mind that you owe 



/ 



it Jl 



320 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

father and mother something, — a thing we all seem 
to have forgotten, — and when you do go back, just 
remember — and always remember — what I've told 
you about myself. We're very much alone, you and 
I, — like two girls who are staying in a house with 
somebody else's father and mother, — and so let's help 
each other and get a little honesty and self-respect 
and see things straight. What d'you say, dear little 
sister?" 

Ethel got up, and with a complete breakdown of all 
the artificiality so carefully instilled into her by her 
fashionable school, slipped into her sister's arms and 
iirst out cryirg. 

XVII 



it I 



hiiii 



It was not until the next afternoon that Peter was 
allowed to get up. His superb constitution had stood, 
rock-like, against the chill which the doctor's medicine 
had helped to throw off. He had done full justice 
to a broiled chicken which Nellie Pope had cooked 
for him ; but when, having put on his clothes, he stood 
in front of the looking-glass, he felt as though he had 
been under a steam-roller and flattened out. 

" Good Lord ! " he said, when he saw his pale, un- 
shaven face. " Good Lord I " But he was very 
happy. He had read and re-read Ranken Townsend's 
generous apology. Betty was waiting for him — 
thank God for that. 

And then he began to look round. Was this a 
nursing home? The dressing-table, with its tins of 



' . f 



LIFE 



321 



CtS>;'SS:^-^P"'^'tsreC stuff .0. 
of its teeth gL ootd a T V""^' ''''"'' ^^-^-> 

closet, which gaped a httif 1 , ! """^ °* *<= 
and a pair of vervhUh. .!??''' '^'"'" ''^"^'"g 
Pers. He opened 'a t^t^^Tf '''''' '''^'^ "P 
was full of soiled ^vhh^\ '''•«s'"g:-table. It 

rolled up, and a oil cS" g°ves. several veils neatly 

-".pun.jsrr:;rtr^'-^^^- ^^ 

papered bare walls at the "1 ^ ''' "' ^''^ ^°'''' 

hob of ihe M « Y™ ,„M 1 " "" '« '"■! 
i-S Horn,," h, 3,a ^°" '°''' « "■' >W. wa. , „„„. 

other kind of men " «;., >• '■- ,. "'^ """^^ '^e 
home and IVe had to hV "' ''' '"'• " ^^'^ »«^ 

t-rne. Her msmuat.ng, cheerful manner and that 



If 



Ff ■' ■ ■!•: 




322 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

sort of hail-fellow-well-met intimacy that was all about 
her, came to him with a new and appalling meaning. 
He had been spoken to by just such women in London 
after dark, and on Broadway and its side streets as 
he passed. They belonged to the night life of all 
great cities. They were the moths who came out 
attracted by the glare of electric light. Good God! 
What was he doing in that place ? 

The keen remembrance of this woman's inestimable 
kindness, the supreme lack of selfishness which had 
inspired her to bend so frequently over his bed, the 
charity of her treatment of him as he lay ill and help- 
less, made him anxious above everything else not to 
hurt her feelings. But there were things that he must 
know at once, — urgent, vital things which might affect 
all the rest of hib life. There was Betty his love-girl 
— the girl who was to be his wife — who was waiting 
for him with the most exquisite and whole-hearted 
trust 

" I want you to tell me how I came here," he said. 

Nellie Pope went over to the dressing-table. 
" That's easy," she replied lightly, adding a new coat 
of color to her lips. " The night before last, not hav- 
ing 'ad any luck, I was 'aving a last look round and 
'appened to be in Forty-eighth Street just as you stag- 
gered out of a 'ouse on the arm of a young gent. I 
reckoned 'e didn't 'ave any use for me, being outside 
'is own place, but I passed 'im the usual greetin' from 
force of 'abit, just as 'e 'ad called up a taxi. With a 
funny look on 'is face, — a curly smile I called it to 
meself, — 'e suddenly gave me orders, lumped you into 



"^M 



LIFE 



323 



o" you. Wel 1 rliri ^ u ^ """"^y y°" 'ad 

dear?" ^a i uo. feeling weak, old 

indescribably, pathetical ly^iV^o be in th " '°"'' 
of a man who asked for ISLl '^^ '""'P""^ 
but a friend -a f j, '"^' ''''° ^'3'* "ot a guest. 

"\f. JTT^ fellow-creature down on his luck 
Me and Graham," she said_"=.n^ i "'^ '"<='«• 
good-looking boy hat is annT.M :. ''^' ^'''* ^ 
dearie — WPII'- L ' '^ ^^""'y ^«'°t«d to you, 

Peter didn't answer. The joke-? Back into hie 
di L^xtord. You need humanizine old hnv 

Utterly ignorant of the feeling of revenue wh.Vh 
had surged through Kenyon's br'ain after B^i; had 



/ 




MJ-u 



SI'' 



324 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

been saved by the Doctor, it was borne in on Peter, a! 
he sat on the bed of this poor little night-bird, that Ken- 
yon had set out on purpose — with calculated delibera- 
tion — to make him human, as he called it, before h« 
returned to England. He had made him drunk ir 
order to carry out the joke. He had given him some- 
thing to rendfr him insensible, well knowing that ir 
no other way could this fiendish desire be fulfilled. 

" What time is my brother coming? " he asked. 

Nellie Pope was busy daubing powder on her face. 
" Not until about nine o'clock," she said. " 'f and 
me talked it over this morning. The idea is that you're 
coming in on the train that arrives at the Grand Cen- 
tral at eight- forty-five. Now don't forget this. You 
stayed the night in your friend's apartment, but you 
couldn't see 'im oflf the next morning because you'd 
taken on a bit of business for 'im which meant going 
out of town. Your brother is going to meet you at 
the station. That's the story. And you're going 
'ome together. 'E went back to get one of your bags. 
'E will sneak it out of the 'ouse and bring it round here. 
Oh, I think we're pretty good stage managers, 'im and 
me. You see, the notion is that Ma mustn't be upset. 
Poor little Ma!" 

"What's to-day?" asked Peter, whose whole body 
seemed suddenly to have been frozen. 

" Sunday, dearie." 

" Then I've been here two nights ? " 

" That's so," said the girl. 

Peter was consumed with a desire to explore the 
apartment. He wanted to discover whether there was 



LIFE 






325 



another bedroom " Ar. . 

^I^ed, a littJe clumsily ^°" ^°"'fo"able here?" he 

°" h- feet agafn that he coJw u^'^'S '»='"-boy 
^ance. "Come and ave /. ^ ''^ '"■°'^^" '""to a 

;au.hm, at the wt^ he'Thosr"^- y"'^'?''-^''''' 
bedroom.- 1 jo^., ^^ ;h°^- You know the 

""y- On the right I Z/T ■ ^°'^^^ ^^at in a 
only use for my custL. f"'"&-^°°n, which I 

kitchen Which werrcSeT^-^th^ T /' '" '"^ 
't. with her hand on hi^Trn, . ' '''' '^''"^ '"'° 

^JhTiitt ''' p''^^-'°ey of~he;;s ^".tM':^ 

""gnt little apartment, beautifnii,, / ,' " '^'^ 
gas stove and dresser "''^""^ ^^rnished with a 
P'ain. but serviceable De";; tab,;'"?'' J^^'^-n-a 
'■noleum which 'as worn '^ ^ "'« P'^^e of 

popular Miss NellTe Po™ :,? "^"' "^« ^"'"etimes 
•Ere she cooks her own ? '' """'' °^ '^'- '-■'^"re. 
•erself,- she's a v rr„eaU 1^' ""'^^^ "P ^^'^r 
goingoutonthe longtraln n '"""^'-^"d before 
'ife with a big L i„^ Je '?" '''^'^'''' '•-ads about 
with curly 'Jr, wl^o stanrf"' '" "'"■'^'' '-°es 
-est love to bfondt: S eataJ l^-" J^'"^-' "'^'^ 
^■•e nearly always about six fee/ ' ""'''' ^'^° 

'° -ear silk stockings lanff^"^' ""^ "^^er fail 

charming suite for a stgleadvth" '°" /"'^ ''■ ^ 
'"&• The only drawback tnt u ""■"' '^ °"" ''■^- 
be paid monthly in Idvan J /\ * '''" ^^"' '^^ '» 
'ects it gives LgrtiuT', '"^""^^ ^^"^ -'' 
'Say! Got that rS- ' v^^V " r" "' ^^'"^^ 

" — Come on now, 






326 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 






ain't got no time to waste here. Pay up or ge 
out — ' I tell you what it is, dearie, there's a littli 
Florida in Hell for them men who let out apartment; 
to us girls, and the heat there is something intense.' 
She laughed, but there was a curious quiver to it. 

Behind all her badinage and cheery pluck Peter couU 
see a vein of terror which touched his sympathies 
Poor little ""'.inted, unfortunate thing! Was there nc 
other way in which she could live and keep her heac 
above water? He sat down and leaned on the tabli 
with his elbows. " Will you tell me," he said, " wha 
brought you to this?" 

"Brought me to it?" Nellie Pope shot out i 
laugh. "You dear, funny old thing!" she said 
" Nothing brought me it. I chose it." 

"Chose it! Chose thisf" 

" Yes, this ! A great many of us choose it. It' 
the easiest way. That shocks yer, doesn't it. — yoi 
who come from a comfortable home and wl -2 sis 
ters 'ave everything they want. But, you .jten ti 
this and don't be too fast to pass judgment. I wa 
one of a big brood of unnecessary kids. My fathe 
earned fourteen shillings a week by grubbing in th' 
earth from daybreak till sundown and my mothe 
took in washing. We 'ived perched up on a 'ill amonj 
a dozen dirtv little cottages. What was the outlool 
for me? Bi ',g dragged up with meat once a weel 
and as a maid-of-all-work down in the town, beinj 
ordered about by a drab of a tradesman's wife, witl 
not enough wages to buy a new 'at and a little bit 
finery for Sundays, and then be married to a lout wht 



LIFE 



3*7 



3*7 

working directly afferwards n , '" ' ''"''y ''"'• 
no rush and bustle, ^decent ^ "u ' °"'' "" ''>"'«• 
dependence. Yes I choseT ? /r '° P"' °"' "° ■"" 

a^in I should chil: -n; ir'^LVirti'"'"^"^" 

way. Oh, yes, we die vn„n , ! ' ^ '*'*' easiest 
we're buriej. bt t w vf-a^ r"""'^ '"°"^ -here 
'hat every vv^figh 1 for th ''' '"' "'^ *"' "^^ 
Oh. by the way, 'ere?;ot'pu;3;r '^ SH^'^k"'^"- 
over to Peter. '^ ^^e pushed it 

;;My purse.?" he said. 
1 es ; don't you recognize it ^ Jtu : 
'" it as it 'ad, because Twas told „M^°''°'""^'' 
I did. I -ave jotted dow^wha^l '^ T'"' '"" 
the account" She hpl^ . ^"^ ^^^^"' 'ere's 

Peter could see a ist „f° ' f-"'' °' P^P" °" ^^ich 
taxicab fart nda n ke fort/T' "'■'" '"^'"'^^'' ^ 
of it there w-as an hem nt" ,^f ^^^^^^^^ ^' '"« -d 
Peter shuddered. He S Si th^ ' *^ ^°""^-" 
-2J---Wacrossrtr^^-erke;^?^ 

fe"^5^St;^t,"!E-^"!:jy-- 

m mighty useful." ■•* '' "^ome 

boo'L^ttXd'ar^f ' ^"""^ °"' ''■■^ '^''eque- 
Pen on the d e 1 " h'a "" ' '"""^ "' '"'^ --J « 
biotting-paper. Watched viri^uha??"'?'^'^ "'"^ 

-tement by Nellie Pop, l4o;tn;rrl:S 




3^8 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

dresser and wrote a cheque. " Will you accept this? 
he asked. " I wish I could make it larger. But i 
it was ten times the amount it couldn't possibly cov« 
my gratitude to you. You've been awfully kind t 
me. Thank you, Nellie." He held it out. 

The girl took it and gave a lituo cry. " Five hur 
dred dollars I Oh, Gawd I I didn't know that ther 
was so much money !;■ the world." She burst int 
tears, but went on talking. " Mostly I can't afford t 
cry, because it washes the paint off my face, and it' 
very expensive. But what do I care, with this bloorr 
ing -aeque in my 'and? I shall be able to take a littl 
'o'iJay from business and, my word, that's a trcai 
God makes one or two gentlemen from time to time 
'pon my soul he does. Put it there, Peter." She hel 
out her hand with immense cordiality and gratitude 
and Peter took it warmly. 

But he had discovered what he wanted to know 
There was only one bed in that apartment, and bad 
into his mind came Kenyon's words. " Blind ! Blind 
— both of you — and in that room sits a man whosi 
patients you may become." 



XVIII 



it : ; 


:| :; :;:i 


lili' 


m_ 



Graham was before his time. He hurried in, a; 
anxious to get Peter out of that apartment as Peter was 
to go. He found his brother sitting on one side of the 
kitchen table and Nellie Pope on the other. Both 
had magazines. The girl tore herself out of the mar- 



LIFE 



329 



We house of the h-, . ^^' 

Peter had been hold „7r:„/"''.'=^ -'" -uc.anee, 
!•" hour. He had l^!n JT''"', "P^'''^ ^o-" fur 
'«° his father's labTrl "' t1? ' """«'■ " ^"^ 
remote suggestion of a smile ?• '*'" ""' *=^en the 
Grahan, threw open the door '" "'"^ '^^ -l^^n 
wait.nr''"'"''^ ">-•■• -ged Graham. " The taxi's 

•i^-jsej'rLr-^^--^-'---. 

sHe wL'itS ^ r^:: '°°'' - "-• She saw that 
^-/Wtgotan^'^HS;^'"^^-^^^'"'''^^ 

NeTscr;';"'''^"''^'"'-''*-'' 

7J on tipt'oe. ma?e a^r "a';'': ."""^^ ''^-^^• 
off the peg. Then she stool ,n7 ^°' ^^'"'^ ^at 
''PS trembled, although £ ill °"' °' ''™ ^"'^ ^er 
"Pthecomersof hermou J "f.f t'^"^"^'' ^'"■'e curled 
voy, eh.^ Well, goodlck and p^°' r^-^y-- but ore- 
.«"« you both most awSy T?!'""^ ^°"- ^ ^^all 
ave you 'ere." ^^ ^' ^ ^een a fair treat to 

H 'reerf:^ wiirs',r ^r '^^ ^- -•- 

•0 be at the back of h s he d y^H '" ^^ ''''-^' 
woman pass She m I ^l ^ '^''^'^ back to let a 

- -quLg eyetra th"f?'^" ""''' ^' ^™ -''> 
'he half-closed door of an "'' '"' ""^'^^'^ °P- 
Pitched metallic voice rang ouf""';' "^^ '^■^h- 

goes Nellie Pope's boarder B"r .7' *"'' "'^^^ 
^ome one oughter stop he". "' ' "^ * >'" '''ink 



:»D| 



/ 



330 THE SINS OP THE CHILDREN 



k 



I , 



The two boys drove home in silence. They ha 
both caught the meaning of those significant words. 

Graham, the self-imagined man of the world, wh 
had picked up a large collection of half-facts — as a 
the precocious do — but who, for all that, or in spil 
of that, had walked into the trap set by Ita Strabosc 
without the faintest perception of his danger, thre' 
those words aside. Everything would be right, li 
told himself, and if he had been coming out of Nelli 
Pope's apartment in the ordinary way and had ovei 
heard her rival's loud comment, he would simply hav 
shrugged his shoulders, like the rest of the young me 
of his type and spirit, and knowing only the tail end o 
the truth, told himself that all men take " chances 
and that the odds were largely in his favor. An 
what would this attitude of puerile bravado hav 
proved ? That he and all the men like him were jui 
as much a menace to society from knowing the hall 
facts which did nothing more for them than allo\ 
them to take " chances," as the men who were wholl 
ignorant and so blundered blindly into tragedy. 

To Peter, the words of the painted woman came a 
a finishing blow. In his crass and culpable ignoranct 
into which Kenyon had flung one most terrific fad 
he came away from Nellie Pope not knowing whethe 
he was immune — not able to assure himself that h 
was safe. Think of it! Big and strong as he was 
he remained a mere child in the matter of plain, nee 
essary and urgent truths, and if ever a man knew him 
self for a fool he was Peter Guthrie, as he drove home 

No less grateful to God than ever for having beet 



LIFE 



'he facts of life,- rt rem " *"''"^ ^""^^t out 
proper source,— since hT /u ^ '"^"' '"" from a 

;;'".^ehis.,u;,r;^:e j"-'^' "^^ ---el 

I -enyon had not open^, out ^ ™ '"'''^ '" ^is life. 
01 thought the night that he tl Tl '"'' ""^"^ ^-'^ 
Ita Strabosck, Pefer'sT^o'lncf "^T ^"''^^ ^"^ 
takenly preserved, ,voulfharr '" ^' °"''^ ^"^^ '"'^- 
he would have gone hln I ""'^ ^o colossal that 

awful thing-had sunk h tof ■■''' "^ ''" °"^ '"°^' 
dangerously less ignorant h ,f ■ ,. ''' "'^'''"g him 
edge. He arrived^ome I n" 'lf°"' P'°P" '^"°wl- 
hideous fear. ^ P'"^' therefore, to the most 

and^'mtJer^'BeirLT'' ''"'"^ "■'" ^is father 
days, suffering f't t^ stcirf *°"" ^°^ ---' 
about Kenyon. and Ethel h^d r."^°"' '''^ ^^^'h 
Peter was able to go UP to u;, '"'"^^^ to school. 
Graham, whose loyaZ Id °'™ ''°°'" """°""eed. 

-■ went up with E a„T hrrtr^''""^""'^''' 
comer. " '""^ew the suit-case into a 

" Gee ! " h 
^ade no attempt'to hide " buTr °\'T'°" ^^at he 
Petey." It was many Irs sL ^ ^ '""''' '°'"^' 
by the name that he hadT u -^^ ''"^ -^^"^d Peter 
.--ed to have com. ' cZl t ' h" v ""^"'•^- «' 
■ng those recent hours ' ^'^ '"'"'her dur- 

^-r did a surprising thing. He turned quickly. 



I !> 



I'M' 






h 



^!i 



'I 4 



332 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

strode over to Graham, put his arm round his shouldei 
and kissed his cheek. For just those few moments 
both men had gone back through the years and wer< 
little boys again. 

Two things happened to Graham. He blushed tc 
the roots of his hair, and swallowed something that 
threatened to choke him. 

"You said you had something on, didn't you,— 
supper, or something? " said Peter. 

" Yes; but I'll cut it out if you want me to." 
" No, don't. Why should you ? I feel pretty rot- 
ten and I shall turn in right away. Don't bother about 
me any more, old man." 
" I'd rather stay with you." 
"Yes, I know you would, old boy, but you push 
oflf and have a good time. As a matter of fact, I 
rather want to — to be alone for a bit. D'you see? " 
" All right, then." And to show that he had become 
a man again and his own master, Graham went off 
whistling the latest tango. 

And by letting his brother go at that moment, Peter 
did a very unwise thing. He was still weak and ill. 
His brain, which had not recovered itself from the 
effects of Kenyon's poisonous mixture, was in no con- 
dition to be tortured by solitary thought. He needed 
to be kept away from self-analysis — to be set to work 
on the ordinary commonplaces of everyday life. Most 
of all, his thoughts required to be put to rest by sleep. 
Left to himself, Peter sat down, almost in the dark, 
with his arms folded, his legs stuck out and his chin 
buried in his chest, and thrashed the tired machinery 



LIFE 



333 



S^tt;;iS,^;::::^^^".'''at had happened in 
Bering that he Ld unde' '"^ °" '°P °' 'he suf- 
separated from Betty Tndh^"' t""^** ''^^■"^ "^en 
;;he new relationship fv th hTTat?"^' '° """^ ^•'-^ 
had set his heart, gradua Ivt :.' "P°" ^^^ich he 

gan to look at e;erytlShr T '"''''"'■ "^ »-- 
"•^■•ng glass and to ee J ""f/" '" ^"°'-'"°»^ "lag- 
%al, simple and ulsup Cous ; "°' " °"^ ^^ofe 
advantage of by Kenjon b", ' ''"' ""''" '^ken 

creature who had had to Cm^] ^ '°'""'°" '^'■""'<«" 
had spent two nights n tl '"'° ' •^="' ^"^^ ^'ho 

°f the street. He bgl" '.'^ .^P^,--""-"' o( a woman 

deep a hun.iliation annsgusUhat'^.H'"''""'^ "■'" - 
of h.s ever again holding B^yn l "^" "'^"S^' 
outrageous. And havinAv ! 1 ' ^""' '^^""ed 

by the condition of hi hea^^ Tv'"''' ^°"^^'^able 
heen put upon him by II, S ^u 'u' ''''''' '""'^ had 
-nee his return from eI 'L 7^ ^''^^ "^'^ happened 
and hyperconscientioufpo ;;t h?' *;? '° *''^ '""'"''■"d 
he stood up suddenly, ob ess d bv' "'''""'*''°"' 
hng thought. He sl\,Ztt'jf" "T '"' ''PP^'" 
unworthy of Betty I'm „n°, " ^^ "ot only 

And having sei.eJ'ira thh tl"' " ""'' *° ''■-" 
triumph that comes with aMl r''"'"^ '""^ ^^^" 
derstanding, he be^a^ „ ? '^''°'''" "^ the un- 

Wmself ho5 to Se i moT'*^"^'"'^ •^^^"'-*° ask 
father entered hif h IX '^?«-,, And then his 
.^rdly. "Father-itw'L h "^^ "'^'^ ■"- 

■t's /a/A^r who must b. „ ° " ^^^P°nsible_ 

- He-svery;r:r;;r°,P=X^^„l;.nhise,dest 

ne slial! come into the 



• », 



'!V 



ii- ■ 



334 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

room to-night in which he spends all his time for tb 
benefit of other men's sons and find the one he neglectec 
lying dead on the floor. That's it! Now I've got it 
There's a hideous irony about this that'll sink evei 
into his curious mind. I'd like to be able to see hi; 
face when he finds me. There'd be just a little satis 
faction in that." 

If only Graham could have ccme back at that mo- 
ment, or the little mother to put her arms round thai 
poor, big, over-sensu ve, uninitiated lad and bring hiir 
out of his mental dejection with her love and warmth 
There was a revolver somewhere among his things. 
He had bought it when he went camping during one 
of his vacations from Harvard. He hadn't seen it 
' for several years. With feverish haste he instituted 
a search, going through one drawer after another, 
flinging his collars and socks and all his personal things 
aside, talking in a half-whisper to himself, until, with 
a little cry of glee, he found it with a box of cartridges. 
And then, with the most scrupulous care he loaded it, 
slipped it into his pocket and crept out of the room 
and downstairs. The door of the drawing-room was 
ajar. He heard laughter and the intermingling of 
voices, heard some one say " Good-bye." He dodged 
quickly past, through the library and into the room in 
which he had last stood with his hand on the shaking 
shoulders of his father. He would give him some- 
thing to weep about this time,— yes, by jove, he would ! 
He would make him wake up at last to the fact that 
his sons were human beings and needed to be treated 
as such! 



LIFE 



335 



He welcomed the fart tv,ot 

room, speculating as to th"' ''"'"'''^ ^^""^ 'he 

be found outstreLe/j^\,7:'f -.'■■- ^'^^^ ^° 
so that there might he nn i u , '""°" ^"^ 'hen, 

down to wnte a taHnllZt "'^ '" '''^ ^^'''^^' -' 

Time fled awav Pi 
"ote paper, pouring om ST.'' "?" ''''' ^'^^ ^^ 
appeal for the nghf t eatm n /°g 'h"'""^ ' ''''' 
ters, and finally signed h; ."^^'" ^"^ ^is sis- 

his large round' vS„ ' tI^'' '"'"^ "--^"''^^ '" 

The storm had come „eale ^Tl'"''''''" 
rolled over the hou^I fo, ' ^^^''""'^ ^^ thunder 
ning. "'^ ^°"°^ed by stabs of light- 

spo^^ith?r:L';r^'^^"^ °" ^-^^ ^^-n 

-olver to his tenX '°" ''"^' "' "'^ 

There was a sort of scream 

histj^'Jse;:^ 7^-°^- sentence, 
ont in front of hL ''' ""' '""^ "'"^ thrown 



* 



.1* 



XIX 



I 



ii 



' I ♦ 



336 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

"Why couldn't you have come in five minutt 
later ? " he cried out, with queer petulance. 

The Doctor tottered forward and peered into hi 
son's face. " Why were you going to do that? Te' 
me, tell me!" 

" You'd have found it all there," said Peter, point 
ing to the pages which he had left on the desk. " No 
very nice reading, I can assure you. But if yoi 
want me to tell you instead, I will. And then you cai 
see how a man dies, instead of finding him dead. Per 
haps this is the best way, after all." 

He went to the door and locked it, still holding th 
revolver. The sight of his father did not stir an; 
pity or sympathy in his heart. On the contrary, i 
added to the fever that had attacked his brain and actec 
as an irritant. He went back and stood in front o 
the grey man. There was an expression of contemp 
on his altered face. The pattering of heavy rait 
against the windows seemed to please him. Nature 
like himself, seemed 10 have burst into open protest 
" Sit down," he said. 

The Doctor obeyed. The blaze in his son's eye; 
contradicted his unnatural calmness. He had to deal 
with temporary madness. He could see that, and he 
was chilled with a sense of impending danger in which 
the most poignant solicitude was mixed. 

" Now," said Peter, weighing his words with odd 
deliberation, " you're going to hear something that'll 
shake you out of your smug self-complacency and your 
pitiful belief that everything is all right in this house — 
You're a good man, a better man than the average 



I : 



LIFE 

''I^e a dog to give the " ! h . '" ^""'^'^ ^^""-ked 

;;ad. and.ouVeVnfX rCt"°"/''^" ^- 
"loney and make things easJ uf '°P'"°^'de us with 
^eVe grateful. W a,knn ^^^ ^" ''""^ 'hat and 
proud of you as a doctor-? "''' "^ ""^^t to be 
discoveries and added to th ^ "'.''" '''''° ^^^ made 
your profession. Well VeV""'"'^ '"°^^'^^g'= °f 
■n the last words that !« II ^ '"'""^ °^ y°"- But 
to tell you what you vj fai '^^^^^ T T' ^'"^ ^""^ 
of all your kindness and un t u ° '"^ ^^''y- '" ^pite 
children respects ylotw'"'-' "°' °"^ "^ ^'^r 
eldest son, have got to out . '":• ""^ ^^''^ '• ^0"^ 
of your neglect." ^ '" ""'^ '° ""y^elf because 

cru^yofSfindSn;;:" ''''■ '''' "'^'^ed 
''-e. " What doe Th s Je :r;: *'^" "^ ^"'^ ^n- 
fnd love me, the others do ?„ I ^°" ''°"'' ^^P^^t 
'-ted you.... He sL'\;"j''^! ->',.Jave I neg- 
whipped into sudden anger. ''''^ * '"a"- 

and'^pul E Lt'naled^ZV''* ^ ^°"'^ »"■» °"t 
"e was ill-treating a Is; "::*ir • '"""^ ^-^^^ 
gomg to tell you,- he saTd ^"f . J^^'' ^^^t I'm 
and I'm not going to!eave anv.h "''' '°*^ °^ '""« 

.- tj. , ,,, otLs';:;rarfovTyo„rrr 
^o thS eC ;: ut°of tt^ ^-^ -' -" -Xp 

a «ttle talk? And f°th ?LTr°-°'"^ ■" "^^ ^°'- 
°-^.ourshe,lfarenour;oVt;::;:rrhXX 






li 







I 1 



338 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

a human being? Would you meet them half-way ii 
their desire to get something besides your money fron 
you ? Have you ever once in your life been sufKcientlj 
inspired with a sense of your responsibility as to mak( 
you get up and leave your work and come among us 
to play with our toys and get known ? Have you evei 
once in all the years that we've been growing up beer 
courageous or wise enough to take Graham or ine foi 
a walk and tell us any one thing that we ought tc 
know ? In what way have you ever neglected us ? Ir 
the most vital way of all. We could have done with- 
out your money and the education that you've been 
so delighted to give us. We could have done without 
comfort and servants and good food and easy times. 
They mean nothing in the sum total of things that 
count. Most men never have them at the beginning. 
They make them. What you've never given us is 
yourself. And we needed you. What you've never 
given us is common sense. You've been a good father 
in every inessential way, but no father at all in all that 
goes to make us men. You've lived in a fool's para- 
dise. You've let us find our own way. You've not 
given us one human talk — one sif ;ple fact — one word 
of warning. You've utterly neglected us because 
you're a coward and you've hoped and trusted t'/ 
others might tell us what you've been afraid to si 
Afraid, — to y "ir own flesh and blood, — think of it! ' 
The Doctor cried out agaia He realized much of 
the truth of all this. He had confessed himself to be 
painfully shy to his wife many times and had spent 
God knew how many anxious hours wondering how 



LIFE 



339 



"'ind back to the „"1 J f' '""^i ^"" "' P"' /-,r 
•"e. You saved h"m frn " """' '''■"'""' ""''' ^-'^ 
'hat was good. fiTutt , ^^'"^ ^°"' "=""^' ^"^ 
you ask yourself/^ ail " "" *° ''"''' ^'<i 

his confidence' DfH „„ ^° Graham and gain 
a woman beh" d it aH wh rt' ^""^'''^ """^ -- 
his life if you had deaTt bv H ,?'"■ ^''' '°"'' '"to 

then-the'sort of toman wh":. h ' ' "^" ='"'' ^ ^- 
these things round IT? k '' '""'^^ "^"^^^ry 

tobendovly"fjp:,'„;';°'-f°'-y ^"^ -"-d you 

"Good God! Wha r ^°'' ^^"^ «"d years ? " 

Peter ro- I u- °° y°" mean?" 

^eter raised his voice " Wh,- u u 

immune? What have ," ^ ° y°"^ sons be 

-' Why Jfr:z:z^i:::z£r" '''- 

'" niy hand? Look at mef A /el, ""^ '''°^'" 
health and everything in the „ u T''' ^^° ^ ''ad 
-rth living, except a fit T ' 1^"^' '"^''« ''^^ 
cause I've never had a father T- '"°"^'"'' l^^- 

;hou.d be a crimi';?.-; P^i^^^ ^^nT "'\' ' 
I m going to kill myself." ^ '°''^ 'hat 



i 
lit 



M 



'l ' 

f'l ! 



if, ■ 




340 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

" Why ? What have you done ? " 

" I've been two nights in the bed of the sort o 
woman whose work you are trying to undo." 

The Doctor staggered, and then rose up in hi 
wrath. "You have? You, my son,— with such i 
mother — with such home influence! You mean t( 
tell me that you've descended to such depths of im 
morality that you've gone back on everything that youi 
education has made of you? It's unthinkable — un- 
believable. You must be a mere animal to have done 
such a thing." 

What else he would have said in his emotion and 
horror no one can say. 

A cry of pain and rage rang out. The injustice of 
his father's narrow, inhuman point of view, his in- 
ability to show him, even by his impending death, that 
he must wake up to his duty and stand by Graham 
and his sisters, sent the blood into Peter's fevered 
brain. 

" My God I " he cried. " You dare to talk like that 
to me? You dare to kick me in the face after I've 
told you that I'm ignorant — without listening to my 
explanation as to how I got into that woman's apart- 
ment. All right, then, I'm not going to be the only 
one to pay. You shall take your share of it. The 
sins of the children are brought about by the neglect 
of the fathers, and we'll go and stand together before 
the Judge to-night for a verdict on that count." 

He raised the revolver, aimed it at his father's head, 
put his finger on the trigger 

There was a blinding flash of lightning. A yellow 



LIFE 

qmvering flame seemed to cut th.r • ^' 

the two angry men . ""' "^"^ '" ha'^ between 

An instant later mo r> 
Joth hands over his t^Th: uL^lJ" ^'^"'^'"^ ^'^ 
the table i„ all its ugliness aZ '''"°^''' '^^ »" 
had realized what had hln .P'"'""^' ^hen he 
* God didn-t intend th!; '^'^"'''' ""= ^^"^ nearer 
And then his v^e iCdte"'' '' '''''" "<= ^^ 
h.s arms round Peter's shoi, "^f' ^^^-^ 'o put 
;^e.^,dearestho,r.hecS "Sremla^r 

--^S:;j^^--:--athighurt 



XX 

For three weeks Peter', t, j 
'" the house to which th''^'" ""'' ^^^ """^ ^"o™ 
whCy turned. xtV : tt dall ^ ^^""'^ ^ ^ 
«n attack of brain fe;er Lv' ■ ''^ " "'^"■"' '° 
great danger, poor old Peter •,'," * ^°"dition of 

vvho, better than the rest k„e""!^ ""^ '''' °°«or. 
doors through which S^oeslf ' 'f "^ ''^^ "^^^ 
^vho had been called in with oir ' "'"^ '^' '^'^'^'^^ 

The little mother and Rel. ''^"■""^• 

Betty, and the three .™ T" '°'"^' '' °"« hy 
speaking and even thinkin^n t '"^ '^'"^^ '"^^^^er! 
•^vo days. To the one " hn « ""' ^"""^ '^e f5rs 
the one who waited Z^tZ^pT'^ "^ ^^^ -^ 

-"..ood that life had for rh:::;S?Lx;;:^ 



fl 



M* 



m 



m 



\vpi 






34a THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

that he might be taken away their imaginations ran 
ahead, as they always do in moments of such poignant 
anxiety, and they were afraid to look out of the win- 
dow in case they should see Death, the black camel, 
kneeling at the gate. 

While the shadow seemed to rest on his house, Dr. 
Guthrie did many things. First of all he went over all 
the terrible words that Peter had said to him that 
bad and unforgettable night. With great humbleness 
and deep emotion he accepted them as the truth. He 
sat for hours at his desk with his hands over his face 
and tears leaking through his fingers. Metaphorically 
he placed his old hard-working, concentrated self in 
the criminal stand and his new startled, humbled and 
ashamed self in the Judge's seat and summed up his 
hfe as a father. It was very plain that he had failed 
m his duty to his boys. He had made no great effort 
to conquer that queer shyness which had affected him 
from the beginning. He had allowed his children to 
grow up to regard him as Bluebeard. He had thrown 
upon his wife's slight shoulders all the onus of the 
responsibility for the human development of their 
characters, and because she had succeeded while they 
were young he had, like a coward, neglected to step in 
and take upon himself his obvious duty when they had 
grown old enough to need more — much more — than 
the soft guiding hand of a mother. He had allowed 
them to make an early start,— the girls, as well as the 
boys,— without understanding the vital necessity of 
duty and discipline which he alone could inspire in 
them, because no man or woman in all the country. 



UFE 



343 



34' 

speaking manfully toXse?!"'^"'' ^''^'^"'"" °f 
permitted them to Jlow „„, oTj^^' .' ""^'^ "^ "^^^ 
'hem the benefit oTlln ■' '"'^ "''^'^"^ ^^-^"S 
'he simple warn ng and fZ.TT"^ ""'«*'''"' - 
a-ay from temptaS^ and n I '^ '"'' ''^ ^"""°- 
He "took chances" and h',' u'"^ ' ^""'^ '''>■ 
might by accident give them ■;; r''' """'-• "^ ^l- 

'hey wouid find theroXms:It=■^::' :r- •'- 

Remorse and regret made Hell fn ,h- 
those honest hours — thi, .rJi ^" '"^" '" 

g"ished. self-made man I ' "''"'"'''':'' '^'^"^'- 
hy his profession effons^nT "'"". """'' '-^ 

-Who had s....jvi;;^::-^-^: 

to tell him wherein le now S S n'!;^" ^""'■«'' 
fed of him. as he had a M o^^,^,^^ ^^''^^ -^ 
ehance. It was a oath^t.v \. '^' ^°'' ^"'"her 

'hesetwohad.du4gwh h^"H/r'°"^' '^"^ 'hat 
nothing, reservinrnot "' ""tL'"'' '"^ '""'• '^■■^'"^ 
good for them bo?h. as Z Jt ZT'tL ' ''''' 
together to see NelbV P^„^ j , ^ hey went 

to the Doctor's unJlLT, 7^.^ w '''' ''"^ ""'^ "?"■ 
was in no dangerTrr^" J^l^t? ''" "^'- 
'hat little, kind, wretched mVi k1 '""^ ""^ards 



I 



fl 








344 THE SINS OF TK£ CHILDREN 

placed by him at work which rendered the need for 
her following her chosen profession unnecessary. 

And finally the day came when Peter was able to 
receive visitors, and a very good day it was. The lit- 
tle mother went in first — she had the right. Peter 
was sitting in his dressing-gown by the window To 
his intense relief he had just passed through the hands 
of a barber, whom he had asked to make him look a 
little less like a poet. He turned his head quickly to- 
wards the door as his mother went in. His old high 
spirits had returned. The sun was shining and life 
looked very good. His imagination made him as well 
aware of the fact that his mother had been through 
some of the most anxious hours of her life as though 
he had seen her sitting in her room below with a drawn 
white face and her hands clasped together. He got up 
and went to meet her. He took he: -u his arms and 
held her very tight. What they said to each other was 
far too sacred to put into cold print. They spoke in 
undertone, because the trained nurse kepi a jealous eye 
upon her patient and moved in and out of the dressing- 
room adjoining. The interview was not allowed to 
be a long one. The last thing that Peter said to his 
mother made her very happy. " I think that the Gov- 
ernor and I are pals." he said. " I think we've found 
each other at last. Isn't that just about the best thing 
you ever heard ? " 

In the afternoon Belle was allowed in. To his great 
relief she told him in her characteristic, concise way, 
how she felt alwut Kenyon. He caught her young, she 
said — marvellously young, "and if he should ever 



LIFE 



345 



come back to New York nil ti^'ii ^ r 
two fingers. IVe Jue relt /V"" *"' "'" '^ 
. 'hat line out of your foreh a'o ' boy" Z "? l^'^ 
clays when you're out -inH ni \ ^" "'^ "^ "'"^ 

four times Ln^ Z ^T:^i;:i^ ^"'^ ^'^" 
th>ng of whafs been eoin^ tL , ^"^ ''""^- 

youVe been ill. Cact "ve'I hT' "' "'"' ""^"^ 

^o, said Peter, "I don't All ,1, 
grateful to him for one .htr' H , '""'' ^ *" 

.1... com,™ „rH, " "■?»»"» »f »l.ep Mill i„ 

town, ' "" ''""« "> f *"i,- 

l'"*- "W "P«!" said Graham, 
el,,.'""- ■""'"■" «•"■«'» l-l 1)»B in lie,, , I,., 

-^:«^Srt^et:s-;i«'rr^ 

How dyou feel this morning'" 
Peter showe<l his teetl,. " r,„ ,;,„• 
."g nounshment. Probably before the . Ll of the 



i\ 




l.i 






34ft THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

week you'll see me in shorts and a zephyr sprintir 
round the park before breakfast." 

"I'd like to," said Graham, and he held out h 
hand. 

Peter took it and gave it a scrunch which had i 
it nothing of the invalid. "Give my love to th 
subway." he said, "and my kind regards to Wa 
Street." 

Graham grinned, waved his hand and left the roon 
He found it necessary to blow his nose rather hard oi 
his way down-stairs. " Oh, Gee ! " he said to himsell 
"Oh, Gee! Only think if Peter had —" He didn' 
allow himself to finish the thought. 

And then came Betty, and the way in which sh( 
and Peter came together — the way in which thei 
stood only a step or two from the door, inarticulati 
in their love and thankfulness, was too much even foi 
the trained nurse, to whom love and death and th( 
great hereafter were mere commonplaces. She with- 
drew to the dressing-room and stayed there for a whole 
solid quarter-ol-an-hour, eliminating herself with a 
tact fulness for which Peter blessed her a- id Betty be- 
came her friend for all time. 

" .My baby ! " said Peter. " We shall have to begin 
all over again. We're almost strangers." 

But Betty .shook her head. " No." she said. " No. 

There hasn't been one moment during all this time that 

I haven't been with you." 

An<l Peter nodded. " That's dead true," he said. 

And then they sat down very close together and the 

things they said to each other are lost to the world, 



LIFE 



347 



347 
l^ca^u. we joined the nurse in .He next .00. and sh« 

XXI 
'y«Sbt yo,r,._ m"; „ Jl'' '"'' '^ "nmnl ..ve„. 

to church the next n „ nTnt T '''"' '° «" "''h her 
0^ the .act that ^^Z^^^^ S^;^;- ^-^v,ed,e 
whose children have outgLvn the"/ "'^ "' "°'"^'-^ 

wol; who h7:;::i?^- -?f '■>- rather rare 
'i-e. whose'^ttfr r";e .Sr^;'\ ^'- hand of 
sort of endeavor t„ '[eatnient she had made no 

Optin^isn^trad °f ^hln'o r^nTlf " ''' '''"^'■ 
the usual gift of acceDt.W "" S°«'"«^. and 

o"t.ic4a^;rr^ir'H7,;:r"/r^^''''- 

was without anv of tL .''■^•' ""^""wed her. It 
cakes the nature of hot ''""■" "^ '""'>'^''"'" 'hat 
able to acq ^ethe e s^r f" r," '''' ""' '^«" 
frankly made this ;.enlr , ^''""^"Phy that she 
-Tea favour. P t a^w M ""' '^"''^ '""^"^^ de- 
kneel before the aka of .]?''"'"''"''' '^'"^ "'''"'^J '° 
thanks, surrounde.f ;^ l,?;,:!";;'''^^ '"' ''■' 
of the day that made her a Se '" '""''"'''> 

The family had grown out of the hahit of going to 



/ 



km': 

11 ii 



348 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

church, — Belle was tired, as a rule, after a late Satui 
day night, Graham was an inveterate week-endei 
Ethel was a modernist, and Peter played golf, — an^ 
so, when they all agreed without any argument the lit 
tie mother was almost as surprised as she was de 
lighted. 

The conspiracy of silence which the family hai 
tacitly agreed upon during their recent trouble, in or 
der to spare her from unliappiness, left Mrs. Guthrie 
wholly without any knowledge of the fact that the; 
were all glad of an excuse to join her in church, lie 
cause they all felt a curious eagerness to listen to tli( 
simple, beautiful service with which they had growi 
up and to kneel once more — more humbly and sin 
cerely than ever before — in the house of the God whc 
had been instrumental in their various escapes. 

It would have been better if Mrs. Guthrie had noi 
been so carefully shielded — if she had been made tr 
share with the Doctor the blame, — at any rate for th< 
mistakes which the two girls had made, — from tlu 
fact that she had let go the reins of duty and disciplim 
with which she had held them in their early years and 
given them their heads — if she had been strong 
enough and wise enough to maintain over Belle and 
Ethel, without autocratically putting a stop to their 
having " a good time," the authority of respect, won 
by love and the e.xercise of sympathy and common 
sense — if, in short, she had not been content to slip 
into a position that allowed these higli-spirited girls 
to say to themselves quite so early in their lives, " Oli. 
poor, dear little motlier doesn't understand. She 



UFE 



349 



^tood that she was a s'r ; ' " ^'"-^ ""''«r- 

an active „,ember of the firm S?'"' P^""— "°t 

"-■■ng so sweet and so and" old f' T" '''''''' ^^ 

conldn-tpossiblvapprecjlThl ' '""''^ "'^' '^^ 

■•" which the sirls^Ledn^'"^"'''*'°"^°f»''e times 

::;;-.ve.ed. ItwastheSrir^tE 

little niother. Betty I a H ^^ ^"""' ^'"1 the 

;jeto,oi„thema:d;::tS;-S^>,J'-^^;..J- 
they were in the hall, and jns\ as n" ,; h "'' " '"' 
■^ta.rs w.th Mrs. Guthrie th;\t-n;' *^''''^' "f'' 
qtnckly. " I want VOL, nil „ '"" '""""' 

;»* t'ri'i.;ir;2,;:^- *- 

''«k. With one thin u V ' '"'"' "•*" to his 

of winter si on a L^ "" "'• "''"^ ^■'" ^ ^'^^t 

;;fod there for :i:::;r;::ir';r^-"''''^'^ 

^■^^ahtt.e,huttherewasaloo,-:hir:nS:d 



350 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 



J i 



if 



those strong glasses that his children had never seen 
before. 

" Peter, Graham, Belle and my little Ethel," he said 
brokenly, " I'm going to ask you all, on a day that 
means a great deal to your mother and to me, and 
so to you, to forgive me for not having been all that I 
ought to have been to you I know that I've failed 
in my duty as a father. You have always been my 
most precious possessions and it is for you that I've 
worked so hard and so closely, but because of all that 
I went through as a child and because I never strug- 
gled as I ought to have done to overcome a foolish 
shyness that has made me self-conscious, you and I 
have never been friends — have never understood each 
other. I take all the blame for whatever you have 
done that has made you suffer and of which you are 
ashamed. Very humbly, I stand before you now and 
ask you, as I asked Peter, here, in this room, to give 
me another chance. Let's make a new beginning from 
to-day, with the knowledge that I love you better than 
anything in the world. I want you ail to meet me half- 
way in future, to look upon me no kanger as the shy, 
unsympathetic, unapproachable man who, by accident, 
is your father, but as your closest and most intimate 
friend whose best and dearest wish is to help you and 
listen to your worries and give you all the advice in 
his power. I want this room to be the place to which 
you'll always come with the certain knowledge that 
you'll be welcomed by me with the greatest eagerness 
and delight. Don't let there be anything from to-day 
onwards that you can't tell me. Promise me that. I 



LIFE 



351 



for :: loiZtZT'-' "^'' ^"^ ■•'•^ -o 'ate 
could never repaT^T^ii""-"'^' "-in, failed I 

you: confidence and C^lt"" "" '"^^ '° ^•'■" 

H<s voice broke so badly that ., 
speak, and the pain fulness of th" " ""''' ""^'''^ 'o 
^vas almost more than "Sose 1 '"^' '""•= ^«"e 

It hurt them enough to stJnd 1'"'"^ ^°"'^ •'-^• 
opened his sou) for fhem to 1? ^'"^ ^ '"^" ^^ho 
that man was their fS U 'T ""^'^'^"^ ^h^" 
blinded by tears in th m kldle '7' "'"' '° =*^^ '''"' 
a" realized called fl 5 *"''''''"''''' '''^>' 
-ength of character ?o mate "'""^ ^""^^^"^ -d 

forcelm'orra humbi™'''"^ '° ^^'P ''- and 
nWy self-conscio s rt"vt"p:t ''"^'^ "^^ ''- 
two strides he stood a tie Dn f "'" "'" ■■*• ^^'"h 
arms round his shoulder °' ' ""^ ^"^ P"t his 

Cinrf;„^^lr-- - ^ace of the great 
^■^"ed. Then he found hi ' ''""' ''^"<^'"- and 
himself to the bitter end oh^r.^l"" '"'' ^"^^"^^ 
say. " Something „ the wat ''' ''^'""""•^'' '° 

-nee Peter has been ill^hes./";^ ^" "•^•^•-' ""^ 
That's why I p„t mv elf ^"'^" '"^ hope. 

Shall we maker„e7:; ..„7r S'-^' '"^ ''-s. 
'"to your friendship? Will "u'.M '°" ''^' "'^ 
chance?" '>"" all give me another 

Wuh a little cry from her heart K.M 
an<l put her arms round her flT """ ^"'■^^ard 

with hot te,-,r« r.nn. ^^ '"-"^ '^ "'='=^' and Etl,el 



'•I'nning <iow„ l,„ face 



crept up to 



352 THE SINS OF THE CHILDREN 

hirn and put one of his hands to her hps. Graham 
btnt over the other, which he held tight, and Peter, 
who had lonped for tliis moment through all his ill- 
ness, didn't give a curse who heard his voice break, 
patted the Doctor on the back, and said : " Dear old 
man, my dear old father I " over and over again. 






^^^Bfijf 


; ill ■ 


IPf 


ni\ 


Jpffr; )h' 


ti 


§■ 



THE END 



r 

Graham 
d Peter, 
I his ill- 
:c break. 
Dear old